4A - Thursday, March 29, 2012
The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com
4A - Thursday, March 29, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
l e fitichioan l 4:lat*lv
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An invasion of privacy
Employers shouldn't ask for Facebook passwords
ur society is becoming increasingly dependent on social net-
working sites. A significant amount of personal information is
now shared online, which makes it dangerously easy for indi-
vidual liberties to be violated. Reports of employers asking job appli-
cants for their Facebook password have been growing. This is a trend
that is alarming and a breach of personal independence. Employers
shouldn't judge job candidates by their social networking profiles, but
rather by their interviews and the quality of their application. Asking
for Facebook passwords endangers job applicants' personal liberties,
and should be illegal in a time and place where almost everything is
EL A IN40 AA OR LESS
@SCOTUS We enjoy being covered by our
parent's healthcare 'til we're 26.
Please don't take that away.
Beyond the easy A's
hen the LSA Course choose to take these courses. percent of Americans have a college
Guide gets posted online, 5o why do so many of us confuse degree. According to a May 2010
it seems as if everyone on the word "elective" with "blow-off?" study by Harvard University and the
campus is talking UsuallywhentIhear people talk about Asian Development Bank, only 6.7
about it. selecting classes for next semester, I percent of people in the entire world
It reminds me hear the phrase, "I need an easy A so have degrees. Even smaller percent-
of those innocent I'm taking..." followed by some class ages are able to attend as prestigious
days right after they are not passionate about. a university as ours.
the newest Harry But the reason why electives
Potter book got exist is to allow students to take
released. Every- classes that we are interested in but
one is talking. do not necessarily fit into our field Electives should
about the same YONAH of study. Electives are not designed
things: Who is LIEBERMAN to boost our GPA or fill our credit be interesting,
RAB? What on load to graduate.
Earth is a Hor- We all have interests that lie out- not GPA boosters.
crux? Who did Harry snog this side our field of study. I have a friend
time? The main difference between who is aPrograminthe Environment
those days and the present is that major but is fascinated by public pol-
we are now in control of the future. icy and politics. My cousin wants to A number cannot represent our
We could have written all the letters be a sports journalist, but is really education, even if we extend it two
to JK Rowling we wanted, but she interested in Middle East history. decimal points. It can only be rep-
was never going to listen to our sug- My housemate is pre-med, but finds resented in the knowledge that you
gestions (even for Harry's kids' God social issues intriguing. gain in our short time in the class-
awful names). And the beauty of going to a school room. It seems shortsighted to skip
As students, we have eight short as big as ours is that there are tons of over classes that interest us for ones
semesters to define our college courses in each of these fields offered that we will sleep through just for
career. We will choose to focus on each semester. Not only is it easy for that 4.0.
different things, be they extracur- us to take electives that we are inter- Electives offer us a break from the
riculars, parties, intramural sports ested in, taking these courses will structured schedule of our major. We
or Twitter. The one unifying factor is actually help inform your own field should not squander the opportunity
class, and we get to choose those. of study. that we have been given with elec-
Luckily, as a history major, the The PitE major will inevitably try tives we are not passionate about.
world - or, in this case, the Course to influence the political debate in This semester, we should all take
Guide - is my oyster and I don't have some way. The journalist may be sent a good, hard look at our planned
burdensome requirements. I know to the Middle East to cover a major schedules for next year. We are
that this is a privilege that pre-med, sporting event. The doctor will be either going to be interested in our
Engineering, Business and other able to treat patients better if he or required classes or nopt; there is no
students don't have. However, I also she knows what social influences choice in these classes. I think it is
know that each of these departments pushed them to need treatment in the time for us to choose classes for the
leave some room for electives. first place. same reason we chose Harry Pot-
From our favorite resource, Wiki- Now lets zoom out and look at the ter: pure, magical interest.
pedia: "Elective, used as an adjective, broader implications of choosing
means that it is optional and chosen blow-off classes over ones we might - Yonah Lieberman can be reached
by election." Inherent in this defi- actually be interested in. Accord- at yoahl&umich.edu. Follow him
nition is the concept of choice. We ing to the 2010 U.S. Census, only 27 . on twitter at CYonahLieberman.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa
Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
The Syrian debate
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are
both aware of the impending dangers associ-
ated with asking employees for Facebook pass-
words. They have asked the U.S. Department of
Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor-
tunity Commission. to investigate whether
this breach of personal privacy is legal. Not
only would employers gain access to personal
information that would otherwise be hidden to
them during the application process, but they
would be able to use the information to also
discriminate against applicants.
The information obtained from social net-
working sites by acquiring an applicant's
password isn't relevant to employers. An indi-
vidual's social connections and personal life
shouldn't play a major role in selecting the best
candidate for a certain job. If distinct infor-
mation about employees needs to be obtained,
there are less invasive legal means of doing it,
including a background check or other investi-
. Asking for Facebook passwords also gives
employers answers to questions that would
otherwise be hidden to themunder federal law.
Personal information such as religion, sexual
orientation and marital status are all protect-
ed by federal employment laws. By asking for
Facebook passwords, companies would be able
to uncover specific details about applicants
that they would not legally be allowed to ask
for in a normal application process, leading to
potential discrimination against certain indi-
viduals that otherwise wouldn't occur.
The employers asking for passwords are
taking advantage of the bad economic cli-
mate and cutthroat college graduates who
will do almost anything in hopes of finding
a solid job. In today's poor economy, it's more
difficult than ever to find a job right out of
college, and employers are using this, fact
to their advantage by invading a potential
employee's privacy. A line needs to be drawn
somewhere because social media will con-
tinue to expand in the future.
Asking for Facebook passwords allows
employers to discriminate against potential
job candidates, take advantage of the cut-
throat economic environment and plunge
into the personal lives of their employees.
This action can only lead to more intrusive
methods of screening candidates as social
media and the Internet continue to grow.
Employers should not have the right to make
judgments based off sites such as Facebook,
and the federal government needs to make
the practice illegal.
SAM MYERS I
Activism is a full-time job
What does it take to become well-known?
200 years ago, if you weren't a king, president,
composer or notorious outlaw, you were like-
ly nobody to the world. In the 20th century,
celebrity status experienced a shift. Singers,
bands, actors, writers, athletes and other art-
ists and entertainers began to gain global rec-
ognition. Today, ten tweets is the difference
between anonymity and stardom. That's obvi-
ously an exaggeration, but the propagation of
social technology and media has undeniably
altered the landscape of fame forever. Making
a YouTube video, posting a Facebook status
or Tweeting something could literally make
someone famous. This poses a serious prob-
lem. People's political and social priorities are
determined by sites that also feature memes
and pictures of cats, not by the latest congres-
sional meeting on Capitol Hill. And in a coun-
try that supposedly promotes democracy, it's
ridiculous for citizens to only be informed of
The latest and most salient example of
this type of bandwagon activism was, at least
among my Facebook friends, the Kony 2012
campaign. The movement was sparked by a
30-minute video that shows and describes
LRA leader Joseph Kony's war atrocities,
featuring interviews with everyone from
senators to members of Kony's child army.
This is an undoubtedly noble cause, one
deserving of immediate attention and resolu-
tion. Kony - indicted for war crimes by the
International Criminal Court - is a murder-
er, kidnapper and sex trafficker, among other
terrible things, and he must be stopped.
Normally, I could never be frustrated at an
honest attempt to spread the word about
an injustice like this. I was disappointed,
though not at this campaign, but at the brief
and abrupt exclamation of awareness. For
one day, my news feed was littered with vid-
eos and statuses about Joseph Kony. The next
day? "Like my status and I'll rate you out of
10." And here lies the problem.
Social media has unfathomable and indis-
putable benefits - the Arab Spring being
a great example. It can usher in democracy
and social progress in previously unimagina-
ble ways. Social media reinforces the inter-
connectedness of the world and demands
civic responsibility between nations. But
its strength and influence can work against
substantive progress. The stories that gain
Internet traction are those that feature flashy
images or particularly interesting plotlines.
Yes, Kony needs to be arrested and removed
from power, but I saw not one post about
Iran's nuclear weaponry program or the
exponentially growing death toll in Syria.
Super Tuesday didn't have its own Facebook
video. Going back several months, Georgia
inmate Troy Davis became a Twitter phe-
nomenon much like Kony 2012 did. He was on
death row, though his conviction was some-
what inconclusive. Davis trended on Twitter
and Facebook for the few days leading up to
his death. After he was killed, there was no
more mention of him. There also wasn't any
mention of the inhumanity of capital punish-
ment or the general inefficiency and injustice
of our prison system. I don't want to take
away from the Kony campaign or Davis, but
there is a lot more going on in the world than
just them. Brutalities and social inequalities
occur continuously every single day. I'm not
interested in making value judgments about
the world's most pressing issues, or whose
plight deserves the most attention - each
and every one needs attention from each
and every person in the world every day. It's
not enough to post two statuses a year. It's
not enough to post a status every single day.
People need to engage with each other and be
politically active to truly bring about change.
How then, do we alter this culture of
momentary awareness? The responsibility
falls on individual people and on the media.
Citizens must make more of*an effort to stay
current with the world, perhaps by reading
a newspaper or watching CNN. But websites
such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also
need to consciously promote continual aware-
ness. Otherwise, only select issues will receive
attention, forsaking thousands of others. And
it's humanely irresponsible to promote only the
movements that personally move or irk a per-
son. Thanks to social technology, we live in a
very small world, with very large problems, all
of which deserve the consideration and com-
mitment of every individual within the global
community. Now Tweet that.
Sam Myers is an LSA freshman.
The Arab Spring has boiled down to a single point,
and now everybody seems to have forgotten about all
the other countries except for that point: Syria. The
revolt against the Syrian government is definitely
unique among the wider Arab Spring, but when the
topic at hand is Syria, it's not only about a struggle for
democracy. And in this context, a foreign intervention
would be more harmful than helpful in the long run -
both to the Western world and Syria.
The main difference in the Syrian revolt is that the
majority of rebels are Sunnis, but the Alawites - a
minority of the population - control the government.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite him-
self. Sunnis make up 74 percent of the country's popu-
lation, but they are an almost non-existent part of the
government. In this case, the struggle in Syria is chiefly.
a struggle for power. The opposition aims to take down
Assad, but doesn't promise to bring democracy. On an
international level, Syria is again atypical because his-
torically, Syria has been a key country in determining
the stance superpowers take on Middle East issues.
In order to analyze the international context in Syria
right now, we first need to outline its role in the Cold
War. The Cold War rhetoric was, of course, between
the United States and the Soviet Union, but proxy wars
took place in the Middle East. Syria was a robust ally of
the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, and, unlike
Libya or Egypt, it has remained distant from the Unit-
ed States ever since.
The Middle East continues to be a playground where
superpowers try to prove their dominance. Since the
1950s, the United States has managed to exert control
over the Middle East to a certain degree. However, Syria.
was always a problem, whether it was Syrian-Israeli rela-
tions, Hezbollah or the Iranian Revolution. On the other
hand, Syria embraced the Soviet Union as a patron and
acted in cooperation with it throughout the Cold War.
What shapes today's relations with Syria are the lin-
gering effects of the Cold War, which make everything
all the more predictable. Russia and China vetoed any
U.N. military intervention in Syria. Russia - the old
superpower - and China - the superpower to be - are
trying to prove their hegemony by supporting the Syr-
ian government because it has been a staunch enemy
of the United States and its Middle Eastern allies since
Today, all talk on a United States-led intervention in
Syria focuses on the humanitarian aspect of the opera-
tion. Not mentioned is the strategic bonus the United
States would enjoy through removing a despot, which
would help to stop Syria from supporting Iran .and
Hezbollah. While the media implies that the United
States - as the world's utmost superpower - has to
take on the moral task of saving the civilian population
of Syria from its ruthless dictator, Defense Secretary
Leon Panetta and Pentagon officials agree that a U.N.
or United States led intervention is highly risky and
could be detrimental.
I'm not attempting to demean the Syrian people's
fight for democracy. Many of them pay the price with
their lives, but why does the United States have to be
the one to lead the operation? In Iraq, we saw war
bring only more death - both American and Iraqi -
and no remedy. It shattered a country and its people,
and it cannot be said that it brought much democracy.
On the contrary, the war in Iraq cost billions of dollars
and incited more fundamentalist hatred toward the
Regarding any talk on intervention, the opportunity
cost of getting into a war with Syria is so high that it's
almost impossible to calculate what one would gain
from it. Unlike the Egyptian revolution, the army is
loyal to Assad, and unlike the Libyan revolt, the army
has high-tech weaponry. The opposition is divided,
so the removal of the army would most likely trigger
a civil war, and there is no guarantee that the Sunni
majority would act belligerently toward the Shiite and
Christian minorities after it seizes power.
The historical interpretation of a U.S. intervention
in Syria would be that the United States. found a long
sought-after opportunity to take down the last castle
of the Cold War. It is likely that after Syria, the Unite
ed States would quickly move to take down the next
imminent threat - Iran. If you think that Iran is mov-
ing hurriedly on uranium enrichment now, you will
be amazed how fast they will try to obtain a nuclear
weapon if the United States gets into Syria.
While trying to save the lives of civilians, thousands '
of Syrian soldiers will have to be killed. The soldiers
don't fight for a democratic cause like the opposition,
but are they less human? Trying to take down a dic-
tator who kills his people is a noble effort, yet in this
case, it appears that his removal won't bring order
or democracy, and it is likely that a foreign interven-
tion would further plague the country and fray ties
between East and West.
Kaan Avdan is an LSA freshman.