Is Your Internet Content Worth Dying for? Attorney Brian Zulberti Thinks So
You may ace your job interview and have all the proper credentials for a job position, but once your prospective employer finds your Facebook, you have every reason to worry about your chances of getting hired. Not many people want to encounter those humiliating, lewd photos of you or those old posts full of misspelled words and offensive content on your timeline – especially not your potential future employer, who would probably drop your resume in the bin faster than you dropped your pants at that rager last month (pictures of that are probably floating around on your Facebook; watch out). This problem may or may not apply to you, but it certainly does to Brian Zulberti, a 31 year old lawyer from Delaware who is proud of his body as well as his homosexuality. Recently fired from his tennis coaching position due to some provocative Facebook posts about opposing players, Zulberti has also admitted to posting nude and semi-nude photos of himself online. This has caused him to fret over his law career as well. As a result, Zulberti decided to commence a hunger strike just outside the steps of the US Supreme Court. He claimed to fight for the separation of one’s social life from one’s professional life, a concept similar to the more administrative separation of church and state. “This is about privacy and the advancement of technology,” he said, “I am a believer that all publicity is good publicity… I will die right here, no doubt about it.”
Zulberti has also shown his disapproval by applying to jobs and sending employers pictures of him flexing in rolled up sleeves, sans a resume. His Facebook also shows more pictures attempting to spread awareness for his cause. Indeed, Zulberti’s outlandishness and aberrant actions soon gained him that awareness. Some of his photos have gone viral, students high-fived him and cheered him on, and the Washington Post even published an article about him. But that is not enough for him. “I want (to be on) a major TV network … I want a 90 second spot on a major network during prime time. Yes, if you were from CNN and you said Anderson Cooper will air you tonight, I would pack up my signs and leave. Mission accomplished,” he declared in a statement to the newspaper. But did Zulberti actually aim to incite change and effects, or were his extreme actions all a publicity ploy? And just how legitimate was his cause?
From June 1st to June 9th, Brian Zulberti steadfastly sat on his reclining beach chair, full of valor and audacity in the face of imminent stomach rumbling. But the brave hero could not last forever. On the ninth day of his hunger strike, Zulberti began vomiting, fainted, and was soon taken to a hospital for treatment. Even with his protest over, a few questions still require answers. First of all, regarding the validity of his right to privacy statements, ACLU Councilman Christopher Calabrese says there is no definitive answer. “Just like your employer can’t come to your house to check it out before they hire you, they shouldn’t be able to check out your digital house. But as for what you post out into the world for other people to see, that’s trickier. You don’t necessarily get more protections for what you say online than you do if you said it offline.” Consequences that result as a freedom of speech and expression should be equivalent no matter if through the internet or through verbal statements. An inappropriate statement may not necessarily interfere with performance quality in the workplace, but it may contradict the company’s values. Companies attempt to uphold morals and ethics in order to provide services in the most proper manner possible and maintain their consumer base.
If you don’t want conflict regarding judgment based on online content, it really isn’t that hard. Many high school seniors participate in the widespread practice of changing their Facebook names in order to prevent colleges from investigating their social lives. In fact, anyone can take simple steps to maintain a basic level of anonymity. For example, you can delete old posts, change your privacy settings, or better yet, just stop posting that “stuff” on social media for bosses, employers, and everybody else to see. These solutions are much more straightforward than starving yourself for a week and a half. If certain online content does not represent who you truly are, you should have no problem wiping it off the digital records – and if it does, it shouldn’t.