Can a potential employer have free access to the online world of their prospective applicants- what they post, what they search, who they stalk, get an idea on their political leanings, or even if they're going to porn sites? And will they be making their hiring choices partly on the basis of applicants' online behavior? Can applicants' browsing history be taken against them? Is this how Google Hire is supposed to work?
8/pol with the Twitter handle @8chpol, the account of 8ch.net site, said "Goodbye privacy! Google Hire set to launch, may link employers to your Google and Youtube accounts. #8chan #pol".
Google Hire, the Internet giant's new recruitment tool and their possible answer to LinkedIn, allows employers to manage job applications. It would also allow employers to place job ads and manage applications through the product. The product's sign-in page has an option to connect through a personal Google account.
Google has not given much information about the new product, but that detail of its reported feature of connecting through a personal Google account has sparked fears of users' potential loss of privacy as what 8/pol has tweeted. Worries were immediately expressed that recruiters could access applicants' entire browsing history.
It remains unclear what exactly will employers be able to search for when scouting for potential hires. The 'Applicant-Tracking System (ATS) that Google uses to manage the tracking for its own potential employees has now been repurposed to create new ways to earn for the company. Currently, the website for it is only accessible to those who have been invited to sign up. Reports have it that several tech companies appear to be testing the product, including Poynt, SingleHop and CoreOS.
Netizens' reactions to Google Hire and what it can possibly do- or violate- in terms of privacy issues have been those of strong displeasure, disapproval, and disgust. Some joked that they then have to start deleting some things, while others warned that secrets will be revealed by the new feature and its functions. Others appear angrier than anything and threatened that if Google proceeds with Google Hire, they will never use a Google product again. They said millions will probably join their protest and boycott of Google. They said that privacy is important. Some screamed for Google to just 'stop it!'.
Probably alarmed by the early strong opposition and negative public reaction to its still-to-be-launched product, Google was quick to do some damage control. A company spokesperson said that " the site will only share information "voluntarily" provided by job candidates. The spokesperson added that "Google does not share private information such as search or viewing history. Only the information that applicants input into Google Hire will be shared- for example, first name, last name, email address, resume, cover letter, etc."
Not really quite reassuring. Perhaps just like in the case of United Airlines, Merriam-Webster ought to remind Google what volunteer, or the slight variation in this case- voluntarily- actually means.