Talking about WikiLeaks’ cablegate can hinder job placements

If you are thinking about working for the government, but have recently used social media platforms to link to or discuss WikiLeaks’ cablegate materials, you can likely kiss that potential career path goodbye.

An email forwarded by a student enrolled at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia is making the rounds on the Internet this weekend. The email, which is said to have originated from the Columbia University’s Office of Career Services, warns anyone aspiring for a government job that WikiLeaks is off limits.

Hi students,

We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.

The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.

Regards,
Office of Career Services

In addition, a comment on The Arabist blog, where the news of the email originated, said that similar letters are being sent to Georgetown graduates as well.

Assuming the email is on the up-and-up, we’re going to call this a serious overreaction. Granted, the U.S. State Department has the right to be choosey about whom they hire, but holding WikiLeaks related wall posts on Facebook against an intern is backwards.

We’re not the only ones; Mike Masnick from Techdirt has similar feelings.

“Pretending that you shouldn't even discuss a rather important and topical story of interest to those who actually do care about diplomacy and public policy, isn't just a "put your head in the sand" approach, it's actively discouraging the folks who might have the most insight and interest into these subjects from getting a job where they might be of assistance.”


 

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