Entries in social network (4)


Employer Background Checks Now Include Twitter, Facebook

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Surviving a background check just got tougher.  And it's soon going to get harder still, as Internet search technology grows more sophisticated. Employers have started scouring the web -- social networking sites in particular -- to check up on potential hires.

If you've ever posted anything that suggests you might be somebody who likes a racist joke, drinks too much booze, or maybe is a bit too fond of guns -- these all can be grounds for an employer telling you, "Thanks, but no."

And it's all perfectly legal.  The Federal Trade Commission has just given the okay for Social Intelligence Corp. to sell these reports to employers and the file will last for seven long years.

But suppose you're clean as a whistle with your online use of social network sites.  It's still possible that among your Facebook friends, unbeknownst to you, there's someone with a criminal record.  An employer could turn you down for having iffy friends and not run afoul of any employment discrimination law.

"You can be deemed a bad apple by association," says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum.  "Are all your friends gay, rich, poor?  Do they all live in California or New York or Kansas?  What are your hobbies?  Do they look expensive or entail high risk?"

If so, Dixon warns, your chances of landing that dream job, depending on your would-be employer's predilections, may vanish.  The employer's decision not to hire you may be ethically outrageous.  But it's not illegal.

"It's kind of scary," says Tena Friery, research director for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.  "We know social networking sites can be hacked -- that someone can post something under someone else's name.  What happens if somebody wants to sabotage a job applicant?  And would the potential employee even know it was taking place?"

Likely not, says Michael Fertick, founder and CEO of, which provides products and services that a job seeker (or any other user of the Internet) can use to minimize the impact of false or inaccurate information posted about them.  It's not the present, says Fertick, that job seekers should fear: it's the future.

Right now only one company -- Social Intelligence in Santa Barbara, California -- specializes in conducting Internet background checks that are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The Act regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information.

Where a search turns up evidence that might be used to deny an applicant credit (or a job), it requires that employers notify applicants they are in danger of being disqualified and state the evidence on which disqualification would be based.  The applicant then has five days to dispute the finding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cloud Girlfriend: Start-Up Offers Fake Relationships for Facebookers 

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- A new start-up says it can create your perfect girl, as long as you tell it what you're looking for. But don't expect to snuggle up with this mate because she's only going to be accessible via Facebook.

Still in pre-launch mode (the site says "coming soon"), Cloud Girlfriend claims to generate a virtual girlfriend who can interact with you publicly on your favorite social network.

"'s tagline is, 'The easiest way to get a girlfriend is to already have one,'" the site's San Diego-based co-founder, David Fuhriman, said in an email.

For a fee (which the site has yet to disclose), the service provides a "network of real people, not bots" who post romantic messages and communicate with users on Facebook, Fuhriman said. But no one (besides the people involved in the faux fling) will be the wiser that the relationship isn't real.

For now, the site only offers female companions but, when asked about the lack of males, Fuhriman said, "Maybe there could be a boyfriend." But, he emphasized, the point of the service is not to satisfy sexual desire.

" is not a new virtual porn site or an adult chat service," he said. "Those services attempt to fill a physiological need, but it does not satisfy intimacy and friendship."

Instead, his site is intended to build its customers' self-esteem and confidence.

Even though the site has yet to open up to the public, the mysterious company has stirred up considerable buzz in the blogosphere and among potential users, who the site says should "register early to get in line."

But some tech blogs think the site might not even be able to get past the social network's terms of service, which prohibit Facebook accounts that don't belong to real people.

"If he's going to be toying with Facebook profiles to create fake girlfriends, we assume Facebook will hammer him," Business Insider said in a write-up of the new start-up. "Facebook doesn't want spammy accounts filling up the social network."

But Fuhriman said Cloud Girlfriend will not interfere with Facebook users' experiences on the site.

"We expect log-ins, time spent on site and page views to increase for people who are connected to a Cloud Girlfriend," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Websites Use Social Networks to Pick Presents for Your Friends

Photo Courtesy - Hunch [dot] com(NEW YORK) -- Every year around this time, holiday shoppers fret and fuss over what to get their friends and family.  But this year, a few new Web tools offer to provide shoppers with gift ideas.

Using profile information pulled from Facebook, these websites try to match your friends' preferences and interests with products you can buy online.

"Every e-commerce site has this problem of gifting, and it's a significant chunk of e-commerce," said Chris Dixon, CEO of, a recommendation engine that recently launched a social gift finder tool with

But now that social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, have helped turn the Internet from just a "Web of cookies and computers" into a Web of people, he said, companies like his can add a layer of tools that analyze people and their preferences to personalize the Internet and their purchases., for example, asks users a series of questions to develop a "taste profile" for them, which it then uses to help make recommendations about anything from books and movies to restaurants and gadgets.  Its latest project, in partnership with, combines Facebook profile data with its own taste-based algorithms to help shoppers find potential gift ideas for friends and family.

Once you allow the site to import information from your Facebook account, it looks for what your Facebook friends have "liked" or identified as interests.  It then builds a list of possible gifts for each friend, which you can refine by answering questions based on what you know about them.

Etsy, Amazon and eBay, together with Facebook, have launched similar tools that help shoppers spot gifts for friends. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


College Only: The New Facebook?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images/CollegeOnly[dot]com(NEW YORK) -- He graduated from an Ivy League university, created an online social network and, perhaps most conspicuously, wears socks with sandals.

Nope, he’s not Mark Zuckerberg. And there hasn’t been a movie made about him, but if there was one, Michael Cera of Juno would play him, Josh Weinstein said with a laugh.  Weinstein, 23, is the CEO and founder of, a social networking site available only to college students.

“I just didn’t think people should have to worry as much about parents and employers in what they do online,” said Weinstein, who launched the site in August 2010, just over a year after he graduated from Princeton.

According to CollegeOnly’s Facebook page, it’s the only site that is “free from parents, potential employers, and other folks that shouldn’t see what you are up to on a Saturday night or at any given point during the day.” Users must provide a verified university email address to register for an account.

While its tagline is “Connecting Student Bodies,” CollegeOnly is now available at only four universities: Princeton, Yale, Cornell and Penn. It will launch soon at New York University and Columbia, in New York City, where Weinstein and about 15 employees manage the website.

CollegeOnly has about 2,500 users and more than 20,000 students from unregistered schools on the waiting list, Weinstein said. Students at these schools can enter their email addresses on the homepage and click “Bring CollegeOnly to My School” to get on that list.

As for the future of the site, Weinstin said it’s impossible to predict student interest and didn’t know how many more schools he could add a year from now.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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