This is an introduction to my blog series which I am releasing today. I hope to provide the tudiabetes.org community with valuable information concerning medical privacy and the internet.
This is a topic that has sparked my interest since 2009 when I first learned that employers were using Facebook as a tool to 'qualify' applicants. The ethical argument has been going on since, but the various arguments usually focus on factors that affect all people. Specifically, the concept of 'regretful posting', whereby a user posts something that has a jeopardizing consequence to his or her job search or career, was born out of this conflict. Because of this, it's not uncommon to hear people say things like, "if you don't like it, don't use Facebook" or "if you're out looking for a job, then keep your Facebook page 'clean' so employers only see what matters".
What does it mean to keep Facebook 'clean'? This is one of the first articles I read about employers using Facebook in the hiring process. To be clear, I was not shocked about applicants not getting hired because of something they may have posted that reflected poorly upon their character. Sadly though, that is what the article (and many similar articles) focused on. I was shocked, however, by this passage from the article.
Sixty percent of employers say they have the right to use social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace, to check up on current and potential employees to see if they're suitable for the job, according to a study about social networking and the workplace conducted by Deloitte.
Sarah Crone. Kalamazoo Gazette. 14 July 2009.
Between the lines was a possibility more disturbing than anything I had ever heard. I first started to wonder, where are the protections for diabetics and other people with chronic illnesses? Should 'we' be required to keep our Facebook pages 'clean' of everything concerning diabetes? I couldn't tell if I was being rational or not, but surely I had to ask: if an employer viewed a Facebook page where the user identified himself as a diabetic, would the employer not consider him 'suitable for the job'?
Regardless what the protections are, it is possible (at least in some cases) for an employer view this information. Four years have gone by since this article was released, but the articles today still focus the consequences of 'regretful postings'.
This blog will be entirely devoted to this topic. I feel that there is a lot of education that needs to be done concerning protecting privacy on the internet. There are tools out there that can be used to protect privacy, as well as strategies which can help a user wipe compromising data off of the internet. I am not an expert at removing any and all data, but I am more than willing to share what I know. I will also share what I know through the research and reading I have done, and how to further protect your privacy.