The perfect fake viral news story has two crucial elements: something outrageous that makes you real mad and something you could basically believe. Not like, â€œDonald Trump Decrees â€˜All Dogs Are Boys,â€™â€ but like, â€œDonald Trump Nominates Steven Seagal as Secretary of Defense.â€
That perfect storm of plausibility and heinousness seems to have been achieved today by a story concerning Google Hire, an upcoming Google site that will allow employers to post job listings and manage applications.
Several outlets, including RT, an Australian news site, and experienced British shit-spreaders the Daily Mail and the Sun, ran stories on Monday suggesting that the recently revealed jobs site would allow employers to see usersâ€™ search history. The sites based that claim on the fact that users would sign in with their personal Google accounts, which contain information on search history and YouTube viewing habits, unless those features are turned it off. RT, for example, said the news â€œprompted fears that employers could be able to access your search history and Youtube subscriptions,â€ and the Daily Mail claimed that â€œseveral news reports suggest this will allow recruiters to access your entire search history,â€ without citing any specific sources.
This doesnâ€™t seem to be the case at all. Speaking to Gizmodo, a Google spokesperson said, â€œOnly information that a candidate voluntarily provides would be passed to a prospective employer as part of their online application. Private information will not be shared.â€ When asked specifically if it would be possible for a potential employer to accidentally see a userâ€™s search history, the spokesperson clarified: â€œGoogle does not share private information such as search or viewing history. Only the information that applicants input into Google Hire will be sharedâ€”for example, first name, last name, email address, resume, cover letter, etc.â€
However, you canâ€™t entirely blame readers for spreading this news. When Congress voted to repeal rules on broadband privacy a couple weeks ago, people were freshly reminded of how fucked we are when it comes to keeping our information safe online. And Google has a lot of information about you, as does Facebook, and maybe Twitter, and definitely your ISP. Given these legitimate causes for concern, itâ€™s not surprising that a spooky horror story about internet privacy would pick up steam. Itâ€™s vital that consumers let companies know theyâ€™re concerned about these issues, but false stories like this donâ€™t help anyone, so try not to freak out too muchâ€”at least this time.