7 Corrections Officer Candidates Rejected Because of Social Media

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In February, we reported on the case of a Maryland man who was asked for his Facebook login by his potential employer, the state's department of corrections. Shortly after the story broke, the corrections department decided to suspend its social media policy for job candidates and undertake a 45-day review of their process.

Today, we called the department to check up on how things had gone. It turns out, they did a complete review of all of their applicants from the last year, 2,689 people in all. They came back with some interesting statistics on the role of social media like Facebook in their hiring process. Here are the two facts from the review that stood out to me:

  • Social media played some role in denying the applications of seven job-seekers, but only one was refused "solely due to social media content." That candidate was denied employment because one of his social media accounts had photos of the person in question flashing "verified gang signs."

  • 80 applicants were offered jobs in the last three hiring cycles. Of those, five chose not to share social media information. The Department says that it saw no evidence that "an applicant's refusal to share social media information had a negative impact on the applicant's chances of employment."

The Department of Corrections did make two key concessions, as well. They will not ask job candidates for their social media login or password information and they will make sure applicants know that such checks are voluntary. It's unclear if that will be enough to satisfy the American Civil Liberties Union, which first drew attention to the case and cheered the suspension of the department's social media policy.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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