In the early days of the Internet, it was easy to achieve anonymity when browsing around the web. The anonymity of the Internet played along with what users had enjoyed for many years, a privacy. Today, with the availability of social media sites all over the Internet, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, the anonymity has shifted away from the path of privacy. This shifting allow many companies to use social media to its selfish purpose of monitoring its employees. Companies begin to use social media as a mean to perform ‘additional’ background check. The step taken is too far and has crossed the boundary of individual’s privacy. But, when it comes to individual privacy and company’s policy to monitor its employees, the boundary is as thin as a strand of hair.
There are many reason a company needs to monitor its employees. Among them are security, intellectual property and trade secret protection, audit trail and usage / performance study. All these purposes will only benefit the company to increase its efficiency in running a business. In some cases, monitoring employees is indispensable, such as in security. Preventing outside intruders from attacking from inside is one of the main reason companies need to monitor its employees. Some of the steps in security monitoring are running a background software to check downloaded files, capturing employees’ browsing history and keeping history of connected devices. Security compromise can be caused by a slight and insignificant but careless action such as plugging in a USB drive into the company’s laptop or browsing to an unsecured or compromised web site. In this matter, companies have the rights to take necessary step to protect itself from any security threats.
Security threats come from all different directions but more dangerous threats often come from individual employees. To prevent this, companies require extensive background check, including secret clearance before they hire each employees. Some companies have been gone too far when performing ‘extensive’ background check by asking for access to employees’ social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
In the days where the Internet is an integral part of our daily life, it has become more difficult for us to achieve complete privacy. Although the nature of the Internet is anonymity, every time we use social media sites, we are voluntarily giving up our right to remain anonymous. Privacy is harder to come by without anonymity. We expose ourselves through comments, pictures and tweets we post every day and we allow ourselves to be discover-able, thus, giving up our privacy in return of virtual socialize world. It has never been easier to track and scout you in much details before and all are within the clicks of the mouse.
The wake of social media sites in a stronger follow-up of 1990’s Dot-com Bubble has pushed many companies to change its way of doing business. One of the biggest impact of this for companies is marketing and advertising. Companies leverage the power of social media with its more targeted advertising to grow and market their business. Many companies who are late in taking advantage of social media would be seeing decline in their business. Individuals have also reaped the benefit of social medias. It’s easier to keep in touch with your friends, share pictures and memory together and receive news from the other side of the world. Social medias have made it easier than ever before. However, this is still not a justification for a company to perform additional check on its potential employees by accessing their social media sites. Social media users still have their own privacy despite the openness of the Internet today. Giving up our anonymity doesn’t mean we also giving up our privacy and nobody should cross the line of our privacy for any reason. We as individual should draw a line and define the boundary between our privacy and everything else. For companies, it’s between our privacy and company’s monitoring policy. And that boundary is the workplace.