Are Facebook’s Recent Changes Beneficial for Social Recruiting?

A few weeks ago during the 3rd annual developer conference, Facebook rolled out some important changes to their platform. Underlying all of these new changes is their vision for a more social web. While the social web has many potential benefits, the key consideration is, are these changes beneficial for Social Recruiting?

Opt-out vs. Opt-in
After their announcement, some members of Congress sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, asking the company to reverse some of the recent changes made to their privacy policy. At the heart of the matter is whether Facebook is moving too quickly to share personal information with 3rd parties. This is similar to the recent questions surrounding the launch of Google Buzz. Is the default for new changes opt-out or opt-in? In the opt-in case, your previous privacy settings are maintained until you give permission for them to be changed. In the opt-out case, your previous settings are changed and it is up to you to decide whether or not you like the new changes. If you like the new changes do nothing; if you don’t, you must find what settings have changed and reverse them to their original states. Given most people’s ambivalence about privacy policies and terms of service, I think opt-in is the right choice. In this state of the world, there is no question about your intent.

Oversharing
While using the social web these past few weeks, one starts to wonder how much am I truly sharing with 3rd parties and my network. When checking news on CNN.com, I am automatically logged in through my Facebook account. Yes, this makes my experience more personal and it is much easier to leave a comment or LIKE an article. But, what if I prefer to surf CNN anonymously? Or, do I really want my friends knowing that we like the same song on Pandora. While I was in the workplace, I always turned off my radio when I had colleagues in the car. Now on Pandora, all my friends will know I LIKE “Seasons of Love” from Rent. Not the worst thing in the world, but I’ve got some pretty diverse music tastes. Since my network has a mix of personal/professional connections, the more these personal preferences start to be seen by everyone; the more uncomfortable it makes me. For example, I’ve never tweeted about what I’m having for lunch.

User Backlash
The bigger issue to all these changes is user response. Will users embrace the emerging definition of the social web or will they revolt? Status updates that I’ve read this week suggest that these recent changes are not quite in the sweet spot for many in my network. As a result, some have threatened to quit Facebook or modify there privacy settings so that no one will be able to know anything about them. While, there are some that may truly leave Facebook a degraded user experience does not move the social web forward. In fact, if the pendulum swings too far towards mass discomfort, the idealized benefits of the social web may never be realized.

For an information driven business like recruiting, these user experience questions can definitely create challenges. It was one thing to evaluate candidates based on poor judgment (trashing current company on status updates), but quite another to begin ruling candidates out because you don’t like their taste in restaurants (Yelp), their choice in music (Pandora), or their news interests (CNN). If candidates think there is even the slightest potential of this happening, they will chose to become less informative and less engaged. This makes the already difficult challenge of evaluating qualifications and organizational fit even harder. What do you think about the new changes Facebook has implemented in moving towards a more social web? Does it make it easier/harder to recruit prospective candidates into your organization?

–Omowale Casselle (@mysensay)

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About the Author: Omowale Casselle is the co-founder and CEO of mySenSay, a social recruiting community focused on connecting talented college students with amazing entry-level employment opportunities. Our solution integrates social media tools, real-time web-based communication, and intelligent analytics to enable employers and students to discover, interact, and connect with each other.

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