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Potential employers might not love your Beer Pong trophy
January 26, 2013 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Facewash is the newest app to help people make themselves more attractive in the job search.

Developed during PennApps Spring 2013 (the largest student-run hackathon in the world), Facewash will search Facebook content and flag all that stuff employers might frown upon.
posted by DoubleLune (44 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's probably going to be a point in the future when the Millennial generation takes the reins of upper management that social media issues will be so common among job applicants that it will be barely relevant.

Think of how whether a candidate has smoked marijuana was once a killer scandal 20 years ago!
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:09 AM on January 26, 2013


Ordinary people now have to do opposition research on themselves to get a job.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2013 [22 favorites]


Obligatory XKCD response.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:34 AM on January 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Facebook is a giant pain in the ass sometimes. I'll have to do this soon, since I'm going to graduate from grad school and will need to start looking for a job. I'm not really looking forward to explaining to all my friends why I've scrubbed all of my pictures with them, including some really important ones, like a really excellent picture from Halloween a couple of years ago with a couple of my friends (one of which was killed in a plane crash about nine months ago). The costumes we're wearing absolutely require that I remove it, but it feels kind of heartless (even if I save the picture somewhere else).

I'm already at the position of trying to figure out how to deal with a site that simultaneously communicates with my mostly conservative, but reasonably nice extended family in Minnesota and my local friends, who are mostly from the Hash House Harriers.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm working on an app that tells you if you're an idiot who shouldn't be on Facebook. It's called Face-yes-you-are-an-idiot-you-needn't-bother-installing-this-app.
posted by orme at 12:08 PM on January 26, 2013


Obligatory XKCD response.

It's not that people have to "water down" your "every little idea and creative impulse," as they have to avoid posting stupid pictures of them taking hits from a beer bong, or drawing a penis on their drunk room-mates face. You don't write "fuck work, this job blows," because that might get back to someone at work. Instead, share some beers with your friends in real life, and tell them that in person.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's probably going to be a point in the future when the Millennial generation takes the reins of upper management that social media issues will be so common among job applicants that it will be barely relevant.

I think you're right in the sense that the presence of "bad" content may not hurt applicants so much. But, even more insidiously, the absence of "good" content will. Haven't spent hours building up reputation at Stack Overflow (i.e., doing free work for a for-profit)? What's the matter, don't you have any passion for your work?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can it make me look 20 years younger? Because that would be cool.
posted by tommasz at 12:45 PM on January 26, 2013


But, even more insidiously, the absence of "good" content will.

I already imagine a guy in HR looking up my Facebook profile and asking himself why this applicant has so few friends.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:47 PM on January 26, 2013


Wait, wait -- I feel like a total rube asking this, but why does anyone need to scrub their Facebook when they can just put the settings to "friends only?"
posted by Pwoink at 12:50 PM on January 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


"What is this applicant hiding?"
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:51 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pwoink: because supposedly employers want to know that you (a) HAVE a Facebook, (b) that they can look at and scrutinize, (c) to check to see if you are smart enough/angelic enough/perfect enough to have just the right sort of content, whatever the fuck that is. if you don't, or have it friends-only, it means that you're not social. Which is also considered bad now.

Facebook is basically "damned if you do have it and damned if you don't."

It's not that people have to "water down" your "every little idea and creative impulse," as they have to avoid posting stupid pictures of them taking hits from a beer bong, or drawing a penis on their drunk room-mates face.

And you better hope that your friends don't post that shit of you and tag you, even if you don't post it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:15 PM on January 26, 2013


It's not that people have to "water down" your "every little idea and creative impulse," as they have to avoid posting stupid pictures of them taking hits from a beer bong, or drawing a penis on their drunk room-mates face.

Or that they're gay, or that they have unpopular political opinions, or that they are the wrong color or gender or socioeconomic status, or not attractive enough, or too old, or having a hobby the potential employer thinks is "weird". It's not just being egregiously dumb that gets you culled from the applicant pool based on Facebook trolling. I really don't know why there hasn't been a big suit based on this- Facebook lets hiring managers commit all kinds of EEOC violations.

And while it would be nice to pretend that we'll somehow eliminate this problem once people who have beer pong pictures on Facebook become senior managers, in practice nothing has ever stopped managers from holding their employees to standards they could never match. I know I've had enough bosses who thought I should be fanatically devoted to my job while they spent all day playing on the Internet and gossiping with other managers to have no illusions about that.
posted by winna at 1:34 PM on January 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Haven't spent hours building up reputation at Stack Overflow (i.e., doing free work for a for-profit)? What's the matter, don't you have any passion for your work?

Yeah, this is the one that worries me - it's easy to just not use facebook or linked in or google-plus or whatever, but that's not going to help me if it becomes normal to have (for example) a public github profile with all kinds of activity on open-source projects, and I don't have one because I use my own server... I imagine it could end up being like not having an email address, where it becomes so uncommon that it makes the person seem old-fashioned and out of touch regardless of their reasons or their skillset.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:38 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Report: Every Potential 2040 President Already Unelectable Due To Facebook (NSFW)
posted by ob1quixote at 1:50 PM on January 26, 2013


Obligatory XKCD response.

To be fair, Randall Munroe hasn't been in the job market since 2006. He has a job: XKCD.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:52 PM on January 26, 2013


but that's not going to help me if it becomes normal to have (for example) a public github profile with all kinds of activity on open-source projects

This is definitely already a factor in hiring circles in the area I'm in. And I will ask a candidate if they have a public github repo or two to checkout. It's obviously not the only factor, but it is one of many. It shows a passion for engineering / programming, and with open-source projects a community-mindedness, and is a convenient way to get a feel for an applicants skills.

But, even more insidiously, the absence of "good" content will.

We've already had a few discussions on MeFi about similar concepts, like fake profiles on Social Media sites used to ensnare highly public people and other things. I imagine a rich ecosystem of social media profile generation and management tools in the future.

The ability to pick "templates" and slowly have your public activity randomly generated to match that template. Alternate identities and management libraries of identities, depending on what community you're interacting with. Picking out an identity in the morning like we do with clothes.

It will be an arms race, with the equivalent of anti-virus companies popping up to detect fake profiles.

Again, the future is amazing! And scary as hell!
posted by formless at 2:18 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I ran this thing on my profile and it picked up a couple of things I actually might unlike if I were job hunting (Good Vibrations and Bedpost Confessions), a couple of false positives (no, Mrs P's Electric Cock is a fried chicken joint) and one I really don't understand why it's sketchy: Boden clothing.

But I'm 45 and live a boring life. And would expect the purple hair would be a big problem anywhere other than Austin.
posted by immlass at 2:26 PM on January 26, 2013


jenfullmoon: And you better hope that your friends don't post that shit of you and tag you, even if you don't post it.

Yep, this is pretty much the issue. I never post anything compromising to Facebook myself, but I have tons of compromising stuff on there, 100% posted by my friends. My site is private, but as others have said, I worry that might be a problem in itself.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would prefer an app that would tell me which employers have a tendency to frown so I can avoid them.
posted by srboisvert at 3:14 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just ran it on my account. It's concerned that I'm a fan of the Triple X Root Beer Stand in Lafayette, IN. A simple keyword search with no context is not particularly useful.
posted by COD at 4:17 PM on January 26, 2013


Wow. My account is shockingly clean. Nice to know, even if I'm in an industry that could care less.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:21 PM on January 26, 2013


Obligatory XKCD response.

I'm pretty sure the point of that cartoon is not, "We shouldn't have to use discretion on Facebook" so much as "We shouldn't wasting our time on Facebook."
posted by straight at 4:32 PM on January 26, 2013


I should apparently un-like The Big Lebowski, The Book of Lists, In Cold Blood, and MOXY FRUVOUS. This is the most questionable algorithm/database ever.
posted by knile at 4:40 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think any applicant dumb enough to leave their Facebook profile open to the general public has just proved to have shockingly poor judgement and consequently is too risky to hire.
posted by Long Way To Go at 4:48 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Long Way To Go: I think any applicant dumb enough to leave their Facebook profile open to the general public has just proved to have shockingly poor judgement and consequently is too risky to hire.

I think it's pretty obvious that HR is not going to go 'Curses! This person's mastery of basic privacy settings has foiled our attempt to climb completely up their ass! Guess we have to hire them now!'

Either having a private account looks just as bad as whatever you're trying to hide, they'll send you a friend request, or they might just ask you. They'll find a way.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:42 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's concerned that I'm a fan of the Triple X Root Beer Stand in Lafayette, IN. A simple keyword search with no context is not particularly useful

You're assuming the HR drone who looks at your FB profile is putting any more effort into it than they have to, though. Or that an employer who cares about a hint of impropriety in your public profile will care any less if that hint doesn't indicate an actual impropriety.


As srboisvert suggests, I'd love to see some info on how much of this is FUD, and which companies actually do hiring discrimination based on social media profiles. Any company that wouldn't hire someone because they (eg) like a brand of sex toys, or had a crude sense of humor ten years ago, is going to be a pretty hostile work environment, and I'd like to keep them at the bottom of my list of places to apply to work for.
posted by hattifattener at 6:04 PM on January 26, 2013


Huh. Apparently Ursula K LeGuin is a dangerous author to like.
posted by rebent at 7:08 PM on January 26, 2013


I remember having a consersation with someone who wrote software that does the same thing, but for the purpose of finding things on applicant's facebook profile for the application process, rather than to scrub for bad things.

We're living in a world where everything determines if we have another job. From facebook to klout scores and credit ratings. Indeed, some employers see a suspiciously clean (or absence of a) facebook profile as a red flag.

I think we'll see a surge in people running their own businesses or freelancing, simply because it'll be prohibitive to be hired anywhere given certain metrics.
posted by hellojed at 7:10 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I'm going to start filling up my public FB profile with cute kitteh videos.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:32 PM on January 26, 2013


Facebook should charge to display different versions of you based on criteria you specify.

Oh, you want to be listed as single to these IP ranges?

You want your religion to match the CEO who is looking at your profile?

Though I guess if they offered it openly it wouldn't be worth much. Back to the drawing board!
posted by ODiV at 8:37 PM on January 26, 2013


It shows a passion for engineering / programming, and with open-source projects a community-mindedness, and is a convenient way to get a feel for an applicants skills.

I'm really glad I don't have to be on the open job market. I am passionate about software development. I am also passionate about other things. I spend an awful lot of time at work on the programming side of my passion - certainly much more than on any other aspects.

I managed to open source virtually all of the code I wrote at my previous job before I left, and at my current job we have open sourced some of what we've made, so at least I have that.

And even if it wasn't open source, I'm terribly proud of many of the things I've accomplished, and can tell you about them, the problems we were working on solving and how we did so in great detail.

But personal projects? My personal projects aren't writing code, for the most part. They're other things. I do hope that people aren't considering a repo of personal coding projects a requirement.

I'm actually kind of the opposite in my interviewing - if someone really don't seem to be interested in anything else, then they fell awfully narrow and boring to me. I don't feel like they are likely to be truly creative and unique in their problem solving. It's certainly not an automatic "no" by any stretch, but "well rounded" shouldn't just be a concept for college applicants, should it?
posted by flaterik at 10:37 PM on January 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


It flagged my liking of "Dogs." Weird.
posted by Autumn at 12:26 AM on January 27, 2013


Every post I've made in the past 4 months has been flagged due to casual cursing ("well, shit", "oh, fuck, no", "fucking fuck"), heartfelt cursing about women's issues ("fuck that rapist asshole", "who the fuck invented foot binding?"), or women's issues mentioning the word "rape."

I don't know whether to feel proud or to start scrubbing my Wall.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:02 AM on January 27, 2013


I don't feel like they are likely to be truly creative and unique in their problem solving. It's certainly not an automatic "no" by any stretch, but "well rounded" shouldn't just be a concept for college applicants, should it?
posted by flaterik at 7:37 AM on January 27 [2 favorites +] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by daisyk at 4:39 AM on January 27, 2013


Either having a private account looks just as bad as whatever you're trying to hide, they'll send you a friend request, or they might just ask you. They'll find a way.

I can't understand this mentality. Anyone in the work sphere that asks to friend me on Facebook gets a polite "no" followed by a suggestion they link to me on LinkedIn. I tell them that I just use Facebook for family and friends. Seriously, voluntarily mixing your personal stuff with professional stuff is just a mistake.
posted by Long Way To Go at 8:31 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am FB friends with a few coworkers. Not all. But I worked with the ones I am FB friends with at That Other Social Network starting, oh, 7-8 years ago. At this point we ARE friends.
I'm sure your rules make sense for you (and most people!), but it's not hard and fast.
posted by flaterik at 1:16 PM on January 27, 2013


It's certainly not an automatic "no" by any stretch, but "well rounded" shouldn't just be a concept for college applicants, should it?

Certainly not. But when I'm on a phone screen or in-person interview, it's my assumption the person I'm talking with is a well rounded individual with personal interests and hobbies.

From a quick scan of your profile and first page of comments, we could probably have an awesome discussion of early house music and the electronic music scene in the early/mid 90s. Personally, I'm a fan of minimal techno. Fucking Underground Resistance, Richie Hawtin, and Basic Channel are amazing. Did you see Monolake at Decibel last year?

Some of the newer IDM out now is really interesting, personally I think it's the natural continuation of Jazz. But lately I've been loving some of the Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea style hip-hop. Oh man, reminds me of crazy Lords of Acid shows in the past. What genre is this exactly? ghettotech? Dirty rap?

Quick! Let's whiteboard this music map!

And I've been branching out based on recommendations here: Alabama Shakes, The Decemberists, there's some amazing bluesy rock going on right now.

Or we could talk about some of the awesome hikes and camping around the area. Good reads, etc.

But you know what? How is this any more fair than using Facebook as a filtering factor? Because the thing is, I don't give a fuck what's on your FB, and I don't even look at it. Burner pictures from last year's awesome Playa art installation? Brilliant. But you know I'm a small minority in that assessment.

So, yeah, I sometimes ask for a github sample. Because I'm hiring for a software engineer, not a member of my theme camp.

And I think this kind of supports the Weberian model of bureaucracy better than looking for well-rounded applicants. Looking at skills and ability alone seems more fair than trying to pull in extra characteristics that may be indicative of well-rounded individuals. And there are criticisms to this model of organization. Maybe I'm a capitalistic pig trying to make everyone become cogs in the machine. But the hiring mistakes I've contributed to have usually been of the type, "this person can't do the job", not "this person doesn't fit the group."
posted by formless at 2:11 PM on January 27, 2013


//You're assuming the HR drone who looks at your FB profile is putting any more effort into it than they have to, though//

Actually, I'm assuming there is no way in hell any HR drone will ever be looking at my FB profile. It's locked down, I don't connect with co-workers there, and if HR wants access the answer will be no, not now, not ever. I have a blog with over 5000 posts going back to 2001. It's not like I'm invisible online.
posted by COD at 3:56 PM on January 27, 2013


Quick! Let's whiteboard this music map!

I can't tell if you're kidding here, because that would actually be a useful/insightful exercise for people I may be interested in hiring right now, but it's certainly universally so.

So, yeah, I sometimes ask for a github sample. Because I'm hiring for a software engineer, not a member of my theme camp.

Asking for it is fine! And makes sense. But I've gotten the impression from some people that it has started to become a requirement, and that idea chafes. The best work I've done has been for the people I've worked for; I may not be able to share that at a code level.

How is this any more fair than using Facebook as a filtering factor?

To me it's: I'm asking, and you're sharing what you are happy to share with me, not what may have leaked through your privacy settings.

I obviously don't care about those things being publicly visible about -me-, but I also recognize that I am supremely fortunate to be in that position. And that it may well change.

And I think this kind of supports the Weberian model of bureaucracy better than looking for well-rounded applicants.

Above a certain company/department/team size you are almost certainly correct. I am back in startup land, and am damn happy to be there (with the caveat that I have a lot of trust in and experience with the people running the business side, and that is also far from the norm). I also don't do phone screens or even initial interviews - by the time a candidate gets to me (and this hasn't always been the case), their raw technical ability isn't really in question, and I'm looking for more abstract qualities. How they'll fit in working without small team. How I think they'll approach solving problems they haven't been exposed to before. How they think about project management. And you know what? If you've been part of a theme camp (or other entirely non-programming related thing), your experience with that is likely to speak to the kinds of questions I want to know the answers to.

But please don't think I'm saying the other approaches are WRONG. That would be absurd. I am in a tiny subset of possible interview scenarios. And I probably veered off of the topic I was actually responding to without indicating I knew I was doing so enough as to make that really unclear.

But the hiring mistakes I've contributed to have usually been of the type, "this person can't do the job", not "this person doesn't fit the group."

So far I've been pretty happy with my instincts - enough so that sometimes the whole interview process seems silly since I rarely deviate from my initial impression. Everyone that I've enthusiastically said yes to has worked out. The people that I've said no to but were hired anyway (don't EVEN get me started. i'm so happy those circumstances are in the past!) have always turned out poorly.

And the single most difficult person I've had to deal with, who I think did significant active harm to what our group was trying to accomplish, was a very talented developer. Who didn't have many other interests. Among the interests he didn't have was "listening to what other people had to say". I didn't interview him but I like to think I would've gotten a bad feeling quickly.
posted by flaterik at 4:21 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I can't tell if you're kidding here, because that would actually be a useful/insightful exercise for people I may be interested in hiring right now, but it's certainly **not** universally so."
posted by flaterik at 4:26 PM on January 27, 2013


filthy light thief: Obligatory XKCD response.

It's not that people have to "water down" your "every little idea and creative impulse," as they have to avoid posting stupid pictures of them taking hits from a beer bong, or drawing a penis on their drunk room-mates face. You don't write "fuck work, this job blows," because that might get back to someone at work. Instead, share some beers with your friends in real life, and tell them that in person.
Fuck that. My private life is, and should remain, my private life.

If I choose to blow strangers in airport bathrooms, snort cocaine off stripper tits, and spraypaint my living room with I HATE MY BOSS!!! in 3'-high letters, that's my own fucking business, as long as I show up when expected, do my work, and generally follow reasonable business practice while at work.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:35 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom, welcome to the 21st century. Your information is out there, and it's already being gleaned to evaluate you, though mostly for advertisement sake.

Scratch that, welcome to the working world. Unless you have a great work history (regardless of a great work history, in some cases), future employers want to know what type of person you are. Perhaps your line of work is a solitary one, where you never have to collaborate or attend meetings, interact with clients or the public, but I doubt it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:45 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, you're absolutely right, rilthy light thief. I'm expressing my attitude, not my working reality, so I overspoke. But posting I HATE MY JOB on Facebook is really the same sort of problem as saying I HATE MY JOB in a bar, at a party, or so on - you can never guarantee it won't get back to the wrong ears. Facebook has a permanence that party conversations don't (typically!), but then again - I probably have more control over who can see my FB page than who shows up at a party (even if I can't fully control either).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2013


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