When Employers Track Your Lifestyle Through Internet Social Networks

You would have to be doing the modern day version of Rip Van Winkle to not be aware of the controversy Internet Social Networks are creating. Everything from MySpace and Facebook to YouTube and LinkedIn have gained in popularity over the past few years. These sites do serve a purpose and among other things provide their users with a sense of community often lacking in the brick and mortal world.

These sites create the habit and practice of sharing, be it videos and music or friends, business connections and ideas. These sites reflect the general and specific tastes of their users. They reveal lifestyles and sensibilities, behavior patterns and perspectives. Overall, such revelations are good things for they are the celebrations of social and culture diversity in an increasingly complex civilization. Social networks help people of like minded tastes find each other, even in distant cities or nations. Their interchanges I am sure strengthens interests in a variety of lifestyles.

But then in certain hands access to such personal information may not be such a good thing. According to a report on CNN forty-three percent of employers roam the Internet in search of insight into the particular lifestyles of current and prospective employees. While I must seriously wonder whether a full 43 percent of employers use Social Networks to review their job candidates’ personal lives, cyber prying calls a lot of ethical issues into question. One has to wonder, where does scrutiny become invasive?

There are other issues as well. One has to wonder how a candidate’s personal lifestyle has an impact on his actual job qualifications. Now surely if a candidate is a habitual substance abuser or has a criminal record or even write ups for sexual harassment or sexual assault, these practices can have a most negative impact on their professional behavior. A worker with issues concerning substance abuse or volatile or criminal behavior is hardly your ideal candidate. His off the job activities can most certainly be factored into his qualifications for employment.

But then his behavior is obvious and generally accepted as unfitting behavior in or out of the work place. But then there is the other character, the guy or gal who can do his job with great facility but has made lifestyle choices that are not necessarily keeping with mainstream corporate life. The candidate could be a spiritual creature, adroit in metaphysics, but they are the unacceptable type of metaphysics, the kind that can keep him from a decent job. Some companies may consider his beliefs “witchcraft,” for example, when, clearly, they are far from it.

We are all aware of onsite surveillance of the work place. We are aware of the video cameras and the probability your email is being monitored. We can be sure with relative probability that you’re playing around on overtly sexual or questionable website during the working hours is subject to discovery and possible embarrassment. You are almost certain to leave yourself open to scrutiny when you use your company credit card to purchases items of a more personal nature.

But then these are all work related issues. You are not supposed to be surfing the Internet, whether you are shopping or looking for romance. You are supposed to be working. You are supposed to use your business credit card for business. You have seen enough Governmental Investigative Commissions, and you have certain enough horror stories about email coming back to bite you where it hurts, and that using company email for intimate or private correspondence is just plain stupid.

Most companies have clearly stated policies against personal use and abuse of company email and instant messaging. There are also clearly stated policies against posting on your own blog or posting personal information on corporate blogs. And if you are posting personal information on a corporate blog, you have to be pretty stupid or harbor a very strong desire for self-destruction. And for those of you who are uncertain about company policy, I suggest you read your company handbook. So few of us ever do,

If you have any reason to show pause, perhaps these statistics will encourage you to change your ways. According to CNN, 26 percent of America’s businesses have fired employees for misusing the Internet, and another 25 percent have discharged employees engaged in the misuse of corporate email. That’s approximately one in four who are looking for work, thanks to their penchant for email and the Internet. Then, of course, you should consider that what you post on your email or leave up on your computer is subject to the scrutiny of your coworkers. They are all gossips, after all. Oh, I didn’t mean you. But consider this, if you pay you bills on the Internet or work out your social relations over the Internet, chances are you are a sidebar in the water cooler dialogues..

But as I wrote earlier, this is all the stuff you do in the work place. As the cofounder of a background checking service, I am used to hearing anecdotes from puzzled and troubled employers. Most HR Managers have legitimate grievances in voicing their concerns. Although you might not think it fair they your Human Resources Manger is expecting, more or less, a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, that’s how it is sometimes in this cold cruel world of ours. But then, this is all work related.

What about the things you do at home, things that reflect your lifestyle, your sexual practices, politics and buying habits? Is it fair that these personal activities are being assessed by your employer? From an ideological level, it is really known of their business. From a realistic level, people will pry when given the opportunity. Visitors will sneak a peek inside your medicine and employers will read your page on My Space. It isn’t fair. But it is the reality.

I would love to advise you to resist these intrusions, to stand up for your rights and to fight tooth and nail against these invasions of privacy. But then this is the real world and you have to do those petty things like eat and pay the bills. You need the job, and more often than not the job needs you, even if your bosses have a bewildering way of showing it. Besides, if it is possible to monitor someone’s behavior and lifestyle, then the greatest probability is that your employers will continue to look into your life. Once the proverbial cat is out of the proverbial bag no one is motivated to try to stuff it back in.

In the end it’s safe to say that must of you for the most part live clean and decent lives that when combined with a little bit of fun and different interests make you unique but hardly a threat to society. As for those of us who live more esoteric lives is enough to satisfy most bosses who already know this about you anyway. Let’s face it, in today’s world of branding and segmentation there are few out there who don’t wear their behavior and beliefs if not on their sleeves then in their jeans or khakis. We are social beings, in the office as well as on the Internet, and what we like and dislike is pretty obvious to those around us.

As for the few surprises out there, perhaps they should be discovered before they disrupt the workplace. There are, after all, substance abusers, office thieves, sexual deviates and for that matter psycho killers who went undiscovered until the damage was done. Only then did we learn what percolating under the guy who was, otherwise, “quiet and kept to himself.”

So there is no real answer as to how to remedy employers spying on their workers. We could pass laws, but laws, as they say, are made to be broken. We could complain; a lot good that will do. Or we can realize it’s our life anyway, we only live it once. Live it well and take your chances. The chips will fall where they may. Remember, there is nothing worse than being boring. Almost, anyway.

Gordon Basichis is the author of the best selling Beautiful Bad Girl, the Vicki Morgan Story, a non-fiction novel that helped define exotic sexuality in the late twentieth century. He is also the author of The Constant Travellers, a Fantasy Western, telling the epic story of a family migrating from the East to West Coast in the late 19th century. The first chapter of Basichis’ new book Chinese Takeout, a Roman A’Clef about Chinese Espionage networks operating in the United States, is featured in a forthcoming anthology, Sleeping with Snakes, Notes from the Los Angeles Underbelly. A professional marketing executive, Basichis is also co-founder of Corra, which as the Corra Group specializes in pre-employment and online dating background checks, as well as corporate research and investigation.

Inte rnet Social Networking Strategy

Advertising is not an effective social networking strategy. You can’t just find a new social media application, set up a profile and start talking about your product or service or opportunity. Not a single visitor came to be sold to. Real prospects won’t just ignore you… they click away like you have the plague.

Think of these social websites as community. You have constant electronic conversations, interaction between 2 people or amongst lots of people. The keyword here is “social.” That’s why the audience is there – to meet people, to find old friends, to build new relationships, maybe to find a love connection made in Heaven. It’s local and global networking of many different varieties, but most are not entrepreneurs. Your most effective strategy is to blend in, position yourself as part of that niche network group.

So the best strategy in setting up a new social networking site is to just monitor the tribe for awhile. Look at user profiles and make some notes. What are the popular topics? Most will readily tell you what interests brought them to that website. Keep a list of the reasons. Be sure to highlight the ones who sound the most like a prospect for you.

Some of them – maybe many – will talk about their desires and their problems. Pay very close attention. If you can somehow help in these areas, then you will become exactly who others are looking for – a person who freely adds value to their life.

People get impatient. A question I hear a lot: “When can I start selling?”

Answer: “Never.”

But as you give value and create relationships and build friends, people will be naturally interested in you and what you do. And you can certainly leave a breadcrumb… you’re so happy that you work at home and don’t have to commute. Very subtle, but it will make people wonder – and ask – what you do.

And THAT is the real strategy. Your goal on the internet social networking sites is to get others to ask you what you do. When they ask, you have permission to tell them. That doesn’t mean full-bore selling, but you can definitely move the relationship to the area you really want to talk about.

If You Are Re Entering the Workforce Have You Brushed Up Your Internet Social Networking Skills

Most people re-entering the workforce realize that they have to brush up on their particular job skills before interviewing.

But how many such job seekers realize that nowadays they need to brush up (or learn) their Internet social networking skills?

Does this seem far-fetched to you? It shouldn’t.

A few months ago The Wall Street Journal had a front-page article about the selection of the new chairman of the Republican National Committee. One of the questions was how many Twitter followers did each candidate have. And when one of the candidates had a low number, he blurted out that he did have lots of friends on Facebook.

Nowadays it is a wise job candidate who is very familiar with all the major aspects of Internet marketing, including YouTube, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, article marketing, social bookmarking, etc.

Why is this? Because all companies should be using their employees to help spread the company message throughout cyberspace to targeted audiences.

If an employer has two equal choices for a position except one candidate knows nothing about social media and the other is very familiar with it – why not choose the candidate who is comfortable with social media? That way the candidate as employee can help the company with its Internet marketing.

Does this mean you need to be active on all these sites and others to get a job? No, that’s asking too much. But you do need to be active on two or three main sites and be familiar with the workings of the other major online promotion activities.

A good way to garner this information is to ask for recommendations of some top blogs on social media, blogging, Internet marketing, etc. Then make a habit of several times a week checking out what’s new on these blogs.

By following the top blog “news” you should be able to keep up with the major events of cyberspace without having to learn how to do everything yourself.

And the more you know, the more you can impress a potential employer at a job interview.

Internet Social Networks Program the AI Super Computer to Run Human Societies in the Future

You may think that when you are on Google+ and when you +1 something, that it really doesn’t mean anything, other than telling your circle of friends what you like. You may also think that when you are on Facebook and you “like something” that it is only to alert your virtual friends to go check it out. But please let’s not be too na├»ve here, especially when the Google research department is working very hard to use crowd sourcing to accomplish seemingly monumental tasks which require human intelligence.

What I’m saying to you is there’s more to this story, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, let me tell you, there is an in game.

Now then, it doesn’t take too much human intelligence to figure out that by doing this we are indeed programming artificial intelligent supercomputers of the future to run the very human societies we live in. The implications of that and the ramifications are so far yielding in consequences, that perhaps we need a timeout to really think about this, and maybe the 99 percentile ought to stop condemning the wealthy as greedy, or the leaders as corrupt and look behind the curtain.

What if an individual had a supercomputer which knew the exact preferences of humans on the planet based on various demographics such as age, race, religion, political persuasion, profession, region of domicile, hobbies, and all sorts of other personal identifiers? Such a system could guesstimate within a very close proximity exactly what you want, perhaps even before you did. In other words it could read your mind, because it is using your mind, and hundreds of millions of other minds to program itself.

In other words that supercomputer with all that information would actually be a collective mind of all of humanity, or at least everyone who has ever participated on a social network. Okay so, perhaps now you are beginning to understand what I’m trying to tell you here? A government with this information could read your mind, a carmaker would know exactly which kind of car you were interested in buying and when, and a politician would know exactly which buttons to press to get you to donate money to their campaign.

And it’s not that these groups don’t already know a good deal about your preferences, and what you are looking for, it is just that they would have it down to such a science that they couldn’t hardly lose. It gives them such an advantage, it’s almost scary. An artificial intelligent supercomputer running human civilizations would also have an abundance of information to control the minds of the people, keep everyone in line, and create such an orderly society, that you may not even wish to live in it. Think of the Borg, for instance.

Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this and think on it. If you’d like to hash out more details, or take this philosophical thought to a higher level, then please shoot me an e-mail at your earliest convenience.