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Is Chowhound.com a "social media" site?

If it is, then under the so-called "Facebook password protection" laws in Maryland, Illinois and (now) California would an employer be prohibited from requesting the login information from fellow Chowhound-employees?

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  1. No it isn't. Why would you think so?

    13 Replies
    1. re: John Francis

      Why would you think that it isn't?

      Maybe I'm confused about the definition of social media...

      1. re: kengk

        I take "social media" to refer specifically to sites like Facebook where information is automatically shared with others who have been specifically chosen as Friends or whatever. That's what makes it "social." The first of these appeared in the late '90s and the first that really caught on was Friendster in 2002.

        Chowhound is a much older kind of information-sharing site, predating the World Wide Web. That kind of site was originally called an electronic bulletin board system or BBS, and now is sometimes called a forum, in which information is shared with all comers, whether or not the original poster considers them "friends." These included both pay services such as CompuServe and America Online, and free services such as were set up by companies like Microsoft for customer service. And Chowhound, of course.

        I'm enough of an old-timer to have seen and participated in all this, going to BBSes and joining CompuServe in the '80s. For me at least, the distinction is real and makes an important difference in what Chowhound and Facebook are and how they are used.

        1. re: John Francis

          I'm an old timer too and I also participated in the systems you've so beautifully highlighted. What has changed most recently at Chowhound is the number of social media sites this site is now tieing itself to and encouraging the use of. The Supertaster column on CHOW mentions Facebook on every video. CHOW has a YouTube account that houses all of the videos archives. Chowhound community comments reappear in other third-party accounts.

          Today, newcomers to Chow and Chowhound are learning about this unique community through these additional accounts and the links to each of these social media accounts appears at the bottom of every Chowhound page encouraging their use.

          So, the use and crossover to third party social media CH accounts has been expanded beyond the main website.

          1. re: HillJ

            Certainly - but that's true of many other web sites, including the New York Times Online, which has links for every article to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Clearly the idea is to reach out to a broader audience than actually visits the original site, to create buzz and all that, maybe attract new registered members. But of course this doesn't make the New York Times a "social media site," or Chowhound either (as you know).

            1. re: John Francis

              Does the New York Times have its own community board for readers to communicate directly with each other to discuss world news, editorial content, specific articles, theater, wine and food? I read the Times and I've never seen a community board. So, it is my understanding that they don't and therefore use 3rd party social media to, as you said, broaden their readership.

              However, Chowhound is the community board for CHOW. Doesn't the Chowhound community itself define social media? Readers join and communicate live directly from the site. The addition of 3rd party social media partners is just (again) as you said part of the trend to expand readership and awareness.

              I believe the Chowhound community itself IS social media by defintion (with or without the latest social media tools like Google, YouTube, FB, Twitter, etc.)

              1. re: HillJ

                Okay for my own purposes I just revisited the NYTimes site. Yes, articles have a comment section to write a remark under a story and yes they have toggles to FB or Twitter account for any NYT reader to share a NYT article on their own FB or Twitter account but there isn't a community within the NYT site for readers to communicate live & directly with each other as registered NYT readers.

                So the only social media they employee at the NYT requires their readers to already having a FB or Twitter account.

                1. re: HillJ

                  "However, Chowhound is the community board for CHOW. Doesn't the Chowhound community itself define social media?"

                  I answered that a couple of messages ago, and the answer is no. "Social media" is not just two words, social and media, it's an expression referring to something specific exemplified by Facebook. By its nature and its history, Chowhound is not another Facebook, any more than it's a blog.

                    1. re: John Francis

                      Then we don't understand the definition of social media the same way. Cool.

                      I would say that in the early days under Jim & Bob Chowhound didn't fit the definition and back then the idea of social media had not caught on. The CNET/CBS Chowhound of today is my understanding of the definition of social media. And the other social media being used today both direct to site and third party uses that definition and the tools that users are enjoying in their own way.

                      Thanks for having this exchange w/me JF-it's fun!

              2. re: John Francis

                I agree with you. If Chowhound were a social media site, I'd have to stop posting, deactivate my account, and hang my head in shame.

                (To me 'social media' requires a situation where you 'friend' or 'follow' someone and not the entire universe of people on a particular site. If Facebook meant every single person with a Facebook account could see your crap then it would be like Chowhound. The same goes for Twitter.

            2. re: John Francis

              "Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment on contents among themselves in virtual communities and networks"

              Id say this site falls squarely in the social media realm.

              1. re: twyst

                Including the CHOW App, which needs work, but still falls under social media definitions.

                1. re: twyst

                  I think all forums to some extends are social media platforms. Some more so than the others.

              2. I would say it is. We are a group of people linked together to discuss common interests via messaging, links, and user generated content. I don't know about the laws though.

                1. I seem to be swimming with the yes it is a social media site group on this topic. I'm not sure of the origins of the quote Twyst is using however I do concur that pretty squarely fits this entire forum.

                  Perhaps the rest of the site without the discussions boards wouldn't be considered a social media site but once you get us discussing topics and exchanging suggestions, idea's, recipes etc. that my friends is social media.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    CHOW's comment areas under each video and story and the reprinted material from Chowhound boards means CHOW is included in the social media parameters as well.
                    All of the vblogs, interviews and for instance Supertaster reviews appearing on CHOW fall under the definition of social media as well.

                    Plus, every form of social media avail today CHOW has opened an account with (FB, PIN, Twitter, Google1, YouT, etc.) to expand their social media reach.

                    Answer: YES-social media.

                  2. I'm still stuck at pondering why an employer would think they have the right to demand my password to any site. Sad that they actually have to make laws to make such a basic thing safe.

                    I have a friend who walked out of an interview because the company asked for his Facebook password -- he (rightly, IMO) said he didn't want to work for a company who didn't understand why that's wrong.

                    I wouldn't give up the PIN code for my ATM card or for my online banking access (or my homeowner's insurance or any other personal site...)...why would I give up my Facebook password?

                    48 Replies
                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Was the FB account established & admin'd by the employer? Or was it a personal account?

                      1. re: HillJ

                        If the account was established and admin'd by the employer I have the feeling that they wouldn't need to ask for the password to see what was on the site...

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Um, secondary passwords? Any job I've had that involved using hardware/software/admin privl. owned by the employeer was theirs to run & rule over. If it was my own personal account, no they didn't ask for access.

                          But, my original question was aimed at sunshine's general question which I didn't think was aimed at CH actually just in a broad sense of privacy in the workplace.

                        2. re: HillJ

                          Since there are no "privacy" settings on CH all the posts are publicly viewable and how would an employer know that we even had an account here since the vast majority of us don't post under our real names?

                          1. re: Servorg

                            I didn't address CH's privacy setting in my comments, Servorg. I actually only commented on if I believed CHOW/CH is a social media site. Which it absolutely is.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              That reply was meant for Ipse (the OP) as to why no employer would either need any sort of password to CH or, secondarily, why they would have no idea the person interviewing even had an account and posted here (for the most part).

                              1. re: Servorg

                                It's a general question in the interviewing process. Rather than surf and get nowhere because FB doesn't allow easy access and no employeer is going to FRIEND every potential applicants FB page, they just ask for the info and if you are hired they visit your site should the need arise, or they suspect issues that matter to an employer's bottomline.

                                Haven't we all heard the stories about less than flattering photos posted on social media sites that backfire on over confident employees?

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  I was only commenting upon why no employer would either need anyone's password for this site (and this site only) because we have no privacy settings or hidden content that they need to find using our password, along with the fact that no employer or prospective employer would even know to ask about CH (since most of us don't use our real names - unlike FB - here). So how would they know to ask for our password (which wouldn't help them in the first place) in any case?

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    But the OP asked if this would apply to CH employees. We aren't employees.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      My bad, HillJ

                                      When I said "Chowhound-employee" I meant an employee of a company who was also a Chowhound poster.

                                      As to Servorg's question of why any employer would care about a Chowhound's posts -- who knows, maybe it's a perspective line cook who has posted nasty bits of the restaurant he is now interviewing with.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Oh okay. It does get tricky around here sometimes w/all the dual hats, red triangles and such :)

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          My main point is that no one needs our password to see what we've written here. If they know who we are somehow all they have to do is look at the site to see exactly what we've written. I suppose it would be easier if they joined so they could sign in and then to to our profile to see each thread we've participated in...

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            Actually I just tested my theory above about having to join up and sign in to see the posting history for any poster...and the fact is you don't need to be a member and signed in to do so. I signed out and then looked at your profile, Ipse. I can see every thread you've participated in (all 548 pages worth of threads) stretching back to 2006 when signing up began with the C/Net purchase of the site.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              But sometimes they don't know who we are, right?

                                              Suppose, a questionnaire asked if you've ever posted on Chowhound and, if so, what is your username and password.

                                              Before passage of the aforementioned laws, I suppose this would be kosher, it might still be in a majority of states.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Unless they are polygraphing me I'm going to look them in the eye and say "Who Hound?" and move on to my next little white lie (just like any good candidate does in an interview). Let them prove otherwise...

                                      2. re: HillJ

                                        They should only be able to see what's public, which would not require your passwords. Nothing on chowhound is private except the contents of your saved items.

                                        Asking people for their passwords (or demanding they bring up their profile in their presence) is a legally questionable practice, since profiles usually contain information potential employers are not allowed to ask about (age, marital status, health status, political and religious affiliations, etc.).

                                2. re: HillJ

                                  "Was the FB account established & admin'd by the employer? Or was it a personal account?"

                                  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/n...

                                  1. re: twyst

                                    I know, I know...although this hasn't happened to me yet. In a job market with 1,400 applicants for one position and eager young people believing FB is a great job hunting tool-the tide has changed.

                                    Personally I detest the idea. And the fact that you can't log into a potential job candidates FB account w/out access doesn't help-thank you FB for that lovely site design.

                                    But frankly, the idea of privacy at all is dwindling don't you think...including the spread sheets, tax returns and news coverage for the very employeers we send our resumes to.

                                    Not much left to call our own.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Yeah, but if you want to call some things your own, do it by checking your privacy settings. I am an employer and the first thing I do (before calling them to interview) is to do a complete google search and check FB and youtube. Its easy and it takes minutes. You would be amazed at the number of candidates that have half naked, drunken photos of themselves on public viewing setting. If they have YouTube videos of themselves lighting farts on fire...they don't get a call :)

                                      It is not so much the content all the time, but the judgement that comes into question. What on earth are they thinking????

                                      1. re: sedimental

                                        This is exactly what I was referring to. Point by ridiculous point. I hear about these antics at work pretty often. Being a professional photographer I'm aware of the poor choices people are making. Then again sedim-employers are guilty too: top pay bosses, politicians and long standing school admins have lost their posts for the same careless use of social media.

                                        Privacy settings don't always work do they. You've got the whole word catching you with the click of a cell phone...and where does that photo wind up? Some folks don't care. FB sharing can lead anywhere. Friends one minute, frenemies the next.

                                        You know, it's a different world my friend.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          I know. What is shocking is that they don't really seem too embarrassed by any of these things either. They film very private moments...then blast it off for millions to see.

                                          Recently, I viewed one of my job candidates on YouTube, singing a sultry country western song in front of her mirror in a skimpy nightgown. Honestly, she was highly unattractive and a terrible singer, completely hamming it up....and doing some weird head and lip movements. At first, I thought it was a spoof. Nope.

                                          1. re: sedimental

                                            My husband has this theory. He calls it: rewards for bad behavior. We've all seen the stories, the book deals, the 20/20 expose..doing stupid things pays off for some people and the mixed message that sends in a media driven society...well, I'm not saying anything new here.

                                            Food porn is more my style..but hey..what can ya do.

                                          2. re: HillJ

                                            Facebook allows you to untag yourself in any photo. However, I think people should realize that once something has been digitized, you cannot guarantee its security.

                                            Employer sleuthing is another matter. It should be limited to what is publicly available via a search engine, and not by demanding to see information that is behind your privacy settings.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              The opinions about what employer sleuthing should and shouldn't be continues...with or without FB.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                Well, there are opinions, and then there are legal restrictions.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  Right and the lines never get crossed? They are crossed...but this is hardly OP material.

                                    2. re: HillJ

                                      my friend was interviewing with the company -- as in not hired yet.

                                      Don't know too many people who would be maintaining a company FB page if they don't already work for them.

                                      It was his personal FB page (and because of this incident, he posts very little personal info there anyway)

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        I see. As you know, employeers do have social media sites like FB and employees are tasked with populating the page, posting information and maintaining them. But some people have two jobs with other FB accounts or a personal FB page that is intended to be about work related stuff or becomes work related and may land them in trouble.

                                        Recently among some of my colleagues there was a Twitter drama over comments made about a job that was then posted on several Twitter accounts...all before the job was technically posted (ie job leak). The fur flew for days over it. The job was pulled. Crazy.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Yes, if you have things posted with privacy settings for only family and friends, then your employer is neither and has no business asking you to share that info. I am always shocked at the people that don't use those settings and make everything public.

                                          1. re: sedimental

                                            And I'm shocked that people knowing this still place their entire life story on FB when there is no way to erase it. Blocking is your only option and then even you can't use it any longer. Why not just blog or generate a free web site for family & friends? Create a online photo account to share with others. At least you control the settings.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              As a facebook resister, I think I can answer this question based on the feedback I get from people when I decline their friend invites saying "I'm not on facebook". Because facebook is a one-stop shop for many people. They don't have to seek your info out. Rather, your info comes to them with minimal effort needed on their part. They don't have to say, "Oh, I think I'll have a look at HillJ's blog/online photo account/free website today" and remember where they bookmarked your url. Too many extra clicks.

                                              Furthermore, people who share their photos and life story on facebook don't tend to understand why others don't feel comfortable doing the same. They think facebook life and photo-sharing should be a reciprocal thing and that everyone should want to do it and want to have their photos and personal histories hanging out there forever for everyone to see.

                                              Speaking of social media and employment issues, I'm astonished by the number of people who lie about their accomplishments on their linked in profiles.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                I agree with many of your comments TDQ.

                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                You control the settings on facebook, too. People who actually use it know how to '-)

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  Sadly, many aren't smart enough to.

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    I realize that linguafood. I was referring to the options FB itself offers users. ie: opting out, privacy settings, new ad features. I'm not a fan of the FB mantra.

                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      I've seen enough FB pages from my nieces and nephews to know that it can get wild, that bullying ensues, that parents don't always oversee what goes on, that photos in comprising situations get posted, that ugly YouTube nonsense gets added....on and on....what's any of that got to do with CH and food.............rofl........stop me now!

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        I'm not a fan of FB (which is why even if you can see my page, you'll likely think I'm not a very interesting person, because there's not much posted there)

                                                        BUT -- all of the nieces and nephews (over a dozen between the two of us) post pictures of what they and all the great-nieces and nephews are up to....and they wouldn't put any of that in a letter or email. It's really nice for keeping in touch when you're all scattered.

                                                        So I use it because it suits MY purposes...not the other way round.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          I can understand the enjoyment. Maybe I've just listened to too many relatives complain about how out of hand FB gets and more importantly how much time their children spend on FB rather than doing other things. Of course, they say that about texting too.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            "...and more importantly how much time their children spend on FB rather than doing other things. Of course, they say that about texting too."

                                                            I wonder if anyone ever said that sort of thing about time spent on Chowhound by adults? Nah, couldn't happen. ;-D>

                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                            I'm not a fan, either. In fact, I may be one of the last people in town (other than my husband) without a FB account and no intent to ever have one.

                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                        That's simply not true. You can protect information on FB as well as on any other site and you can certainly erase it. People are just sloppy/lazy with their privacy/sharing settings.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          We were unable to completely delete an unauthorized non profit account two years ago even once the admin/security access was made avail. The only "erase" option in FB was to shut the access to privacy. But the unauthorized history of that short term FB page remains on FB.

                                                          This is why I stated that, RL.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            For that matter, my understanding is that virtually everything that was ever posted on the WWW is archived, if you know how to look for it.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              You wanna take on the bigger topic (ha!) or just recognize that anyone can start an FB page with no authorization to speak for a non profit, collect "fundraising" dollars and present an involved face for a charity with no real affiliation. As a member of the board we were told about this practice and amazed how common it is. Not funny. FB had little to say about it. And offered few options to deal with it.

                                                              How in the world would anyone be able to deal with all the cheats on the www? Looking for it is only a small part of dealing with it.

                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                              edit to add: Board members finally reached FB reps and were told the history is not going to be erased.

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