In my business ethics course for my MBA we had to find an issue worthy of sending a letter to the editor from an ethical perspective. I thought I’d share mine here now that I’ve nearly parked the car in that MBA garage.
To the Editor:
“Funny, They Don’t Look Like My References” (Business, 11/9/14)
The issue that a LinkedIn reference from a ‘coworker’ with whom you may not have actually worked, and that you are unaware of, could impact your hiring potential shows the risk we walk as we let Big Data drive decision systems. The LinkedIn features on reference searches for their paying customers look to jeopardize the integrity of mega social sites like LinkedIn and needs to be closely watched by both the judicial system and customers.
That LinkedIn did not have the foresight to see this as an ethical issue and risk to their integrity as well as a violation of their expected duty of care towards their users brings alarm to me. If the verdict in this legal case does not find protection for LinkedIn users through its interpretation of the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act then we know we need updated consumer protection to cover the gap in legal rights that the social internet age brings.
LinkedIn is such a part of the lexicon of professionals today that one insular event like this likely won’t cause much stir but I’d hope that the trending news around social would lean more towards stories that actually can affect our lives rather than what celebrity is on the cover of the weekly Paper magazine.