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Sunday, January 25, 2009

SOUND OFF: MY OPEN FACEBOOK

My readers were split on how far an employer should go in using Facebook pages, Myspace pages or blog posts to determine whether or not to hire an otherwise qualified candidate with a solid work history and strong recommendations. In an informal poll on my column's blog, 52 percent of my readers said that employers should be able to use these pages and posts in evaluating a job candidate.

"Anyone who thinks that they can have an anonymous online life while living a public life needs to get real," writes Andrea Useem of Virginia.

But another reader wonders "(where we) draw the line with our personal life becoming professional business and vice versa." This reader is very careful to keep professional information out of her profiles, partly to keep employers from "nosing around my dating profiles."

Thomas Ward of Wisconsin thinks that anything aired publicly, whether actually or virtually, is fair game.

"When we publish information about ourselves and put it on the Web for anyone to consume," Ward says, "we open a door that has consequences. As a professional recruiter, I use every tool I have to read a candidate. Web search is a common tool."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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