It doesn’t bother me that the Obama pre-administration is asking to see every piece of email, every diary entry or every random piece of effluvia that you’ve posted to your Facebook page, in an effort to save itself from potential future embarrassment. As a vetting process, it’s certainly…invasive, but I get it.
No, what bothers me is the application pool that will result from this level of vetting. I’m sure that if you were at one point a member of a Facebook group called “I Love Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac!!!!!” then it would probably disqualify you from employment. Then again, if you posted a picture of yourself on the business end of a beer bong, it might not. It’s entirely possible they’re just doing due dilligence. It would be impossible to find someone who hasn’t expressed opinions, one way or the other, about the government or hasn’t doing something embarrassing or shameful in their past.
But for someone like me, going through all my electronic history is enough of an impediment to filling out the full application. (Chicago Reader’s web editor Whet Moser says the same.) That’s going to rule out exactly the kind of folks who were instrumental in putting Obama in the White House.
I’m not saying that because those people helped put him there that they deserve jobs. But there was a lot of commentary during and after the campaign about how Obama was the social media president. Yet this application process is unfriendly to social media applicants, who are traditionally more involved in and knowledgeable about local and national issues. Aren’t these the kind of folks we want in the government?