Unusually, this is the second post of the day. I’m writing this post because I picked up on a service being introduced by a company called Social Intelligence.
The original post that alerted me to this was in ERE, and was written by Todd Raphael. Thanks to them for keeping us informed.
The concept of the Social Intelligence service is that they spider social-media channels from twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, linked In, Flickr, You Tube and other sources, and produce a report on what is being said. The example given is listed in broad terms and includes things like “demonstrating potentially violent behaviour”, “drugs lingo”, “Poor judgement”, etc
The report is a mix of automated interpretation and analysis (that’s one hell of an algorithm.)
I understand how recruiters and hiring managers will take a snoop at on-line profiles and comments and this can’t do anything but influence their decision if things are over the top. I think we have to accept that in a digital world. it stands to reason that if you might get sourced and hired largely on the strength of blog posts or network introductions, then it can conversely influence decisions against you. Automating that, and employing it as a formal part of the hiring process is a whole different ball game.
What I want to know is how deep these spiders dig to reveal identities. What about the blogger that blogs under an assumed identity, or post in forums? Would they continue to do so if they knew it could or would affect future employment based on an automated interpretation of content? This could kill off some of our best alternative voices in the bloggersphere.
The other concerning thing here is that the service is being marketed for not only employment checks, but also for monitoring employees. Companies can set their own areas to monitor, interpret and report. This has frightening implications, and in my view goes too far.
I accept that if I post publicly that my company is S**T and my boss is an A**E, this could go viral among my colleagues and there is probably going to be consequences. People need to apply common sense before posting, and apply the usual rules to content that they would to e-mail or other public communications. That is just comment sense, but what is next, a voice analyzer fitted to my phone that measures what I say on calls, or to my voice box to monitor the words that come out of my mouth?
Now social intelligence have been wise enough to include filters to cut out anything that could be deemed discriminatory. That covers some of the legal argument, but how are the interpretations reached? If I regularly check in on four-square at pubs and bars, will it flag up a potential drink problem? If I comment on political blogs, will i be deemed a political activist? I could go on in this vein.
My fear is that this kind of monitoring will only lead to people becoming afraid to comment or post anything other than the vanilla, and will kill social-media channels for most users. no doubt I will be in for a bad report as a result of this post, but I really see it as a dangerous step too far.
if you are brave enough, please leave a comment about your views.
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