Even Bigger Brother (He was away at college but couldn’t get a job)

Working in this industry one can forget the pitfalls of online marketing and the ‘always-on’ nature of social media. Very recently with the Wiki-Leaks scandal we are beginning to understand that all information is not created equal. Some might even argue that there are just some things we do not need to know. (Those people were ‘unavailable’ for comment).

We have all heard terrible stories of young graduates being denied jobs because of well…less than appropriate Facebook profiles. Can you imagine though if you were denied a job based solely on information sharing? Students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs received such a warning from the State Department. The email stated:

From: “Office of Career Services”

Date: November 30, 2010 15:26:53 EST:

Hi students,

We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.

The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.


Seriously? This has very large implications for the rapidly expanding social media market. The next generation is no longer being told to post carefully. No, they are being told not to post at all. That is if they wish to be gainfully employed. This could mean the giant pool of consumers who access their social media tools everyday is lost to advertisers.

We have known for years that the government has struggled with how to ‘police’ the net and make it as family (and govt.) friendly as Main Street America. But not hiring a student because they commented on their best friend’s wedding photos is a little ludicrous.

-Name removed to protect the innocent