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It?s 2014, which means that Facebook will be 10 years old this February. Since the site launched it has become standard procedure for companies to screen job candidates based on their social media profiles. A recent study, however, suggests that the practice may actually drive away qualified applicants who feel that their privacy has been compromised.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that when job applicants realize an organization has viewed their social media profile, they are less likely to perceive the hiring process as fair, regardless of whether they are offered the position. The practice may have serious repercussions for the hiring organization?s reputation and make applicants more inclined to resort to litigation, says Will Stoughton, a doctoral student in industrial psychology and lead author of the paper. The study was published in the Journal of Business and Psychology. ?There could be all kinds of negative consequences for creating a selection process that is perceived as invasive and unfair,? says Lori Thompson, a psychology professor at NC State and one of the paper?s co-authors. ?When you think about the fact that top talent usually has a lot of choices as to where they want to go to work, it begins to really matter.?

Although job applicants would not necessarily know if their social media profiles had been screened, they do have several ways of finding out, Thompson says. For instance, an applicant might be tipped off after receiving a suspicious friend request or by talking with current employees and hiring managers who disclose the information ? either accidentally or on purpose ? in the course of the interview.

In 2013 almost half of all companies reported using social media profiles to make hiring decisions, according to a survey by the London-based Institute for Employment Studies. Although the practice is pervasive, social media screening is a relatively new phenomenon, and many companies lack clear guidelines about how and when it should be used ? raising questions about whether the practice violates any anti-discrimination laws. ?The legal landscape concerning the use of social media for screening is changing quickly,? Stoughton says. ?Organizations that don?t have formal processes regarding the use of social media for selection may put themselves at risk of legal complaints because of inconsistent practices.?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from making hiring decisions on the basis of certain protected characteristics, such as an applicant?s race, ethnicity, religion, gender or disability status. Those details are often present on an individual?s social media profile, however, giving managers access to information that would not necessarily be available to them otherwise. Profile screening could thus potentially color their judgment of the applicant ? whether they realize it or not. For instance, in a 2009 study conducted for the site CareerBuilder, more than half of employers reported that the biggest factor influencing their decision not to hire an applicant was the presence of provocative photos on the candidate?s social media profile, an issue more likely to affect women than men.
 

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Makes me happy that this is now illegal in some states.

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Separate email account for my Facebook.  If an employer asks for my info, I will tell them I dont have Facebook.   If they dont believe me and insist, I will walk out of the interview.

 

What I do in my personal life is no business of any employers as long as it is not interfering with responsibilities.

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Eh, that is ridiculous.

 

It's public information, why wouldn't you be allowed to look it up.

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This would have never became an issue had the economy not tanked and we had such high unemployment. Because employers had the ability to become so choosey they started doing this. Personally I don't think should apply unless your some kind of spokes person or top level manager.

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Hello,

This should be illegal. What I do in my personal life, stays as my PERSONAL life.

Having said that, I always close all my social media accounts (including Twitter) as much as possible.

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I don't see how they distinguish between hundreds of common names, and you, the applicant.

 

And what's to stop someone with a grudge, from posting a fake account, with embarassing photos ... ?

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I don't mind if they've tried to look at my profile, my profile is locked down so they'd get nothing, I don't accept friend requests from people I don't know. It's the companies who demand employers hand over Facebook passwords etc that disgust me.

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Separate email account for my Facebook.  If an employer asks for my info, I will tell them I dont have Facebook.   If they dont believe me and insist, I will walk out of the interview.

 

What I do in my personal life is no business of any employers as long as it is not interfering with responsibilities.

Any company that would blatantly ask you for FB information in an interview is just setting themselves up for litigation. Give it to em, and if they don't hire you then it is easily a case of discrimination given the civil rights act mentioned above.

 

 

Eh, that is ridiculous.

 

It's public information, why wouldn't you be allowed to look it up.

 

Because it leads into the territory of discrimination. It's the same thing as how you are restricted on what you can ask during an interview. If you happen to find out things you shouldn't know (about religion, sex, sexuality, etc.) then that puts you on shaky legal grounds where someone can try to litigate against you for not being hired.

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Hello,

It's the companies who demand employers hand over Facebook passwords etc that disgust me.

Is that legal? I have never heard a case like that.

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Where I work they use it as a standard practice. I think that more people should just know how to mark their profile as private and prevent anyone that is not listed as a friend from accessing any portion of their page.

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Hello,

Where I work they use it as a standard practice.

They use what as standard practice?

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Hello,

Is that legal? I have never heard a case like that.

It has happened presumably by companies that don't understand the legal implications. States have started to put up laws in the last number of years to guard against it: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/facebook-passwords-employers/4327739/

 

EDIT: what McKay said.

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It should be illegal.  What you say on social networks shouldn't affect your job unless you mention the company or the people there in a negative light.  However there is a way around this.  Make it so only friends can see what you've posted on Facebook.   That way that can't screen you unless you've added them :)


The UK does it.

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I have no problem with them lookup up applicants Facebook profiles. Have something you don't want to be made public? Don't make it public then.

 

Asking applicants for their Facebook password is ridiculous though and I'd never do it (even if I did have a silly Facebook account).

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Eh, that is ridiculous.

 

It's public information, why wouldn't you be allowed to look it up.

it's not public information most of the time though. if you're smart you have your account set to only allow those you've friended to see you posts (which i think is the default anyway)

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it's not public information most of the time though. if you're smart you have your account set to only allow those you've friended to see you posts (which i think is the default anyway)

 

Exactly, in that case they can't see anything anyway. I don't say they should friend you or make you accept their friend request or have you show them your Facebook, but why wouldn't they be free to find you through Google/Search and look at whatever is there publicly?

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Eh, that is ridiculous.

 

It's public information, why wouldn't you be allowed to look it up.

Its not entirely public information. This is why we have privacy settings.

Its information you wish to share with a certain number of verified friends, not for the general public.

Also its made illegal as I imagine its a form of social discrimination, i.e just because i go free-fall parachuting, doesnt mean im more likely to die on my days off and thus a no hire.

Allowing discrimination on a much broader spectrum is not a good thing, and employers need to realize that.

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Exactly, in that case they can't see anything anyway. I don't say they should friend you or make you accept their friend request or have you show them your Facebook, but why wouldn't they be free to find you through Google/Search and look at whatever is there publicly?

Fragmented posts and usernames from across the net via google arent going to be anywhere near as accurate as a FB profile. Simply as the information there looking up is not necessarily you.

Nor can you build an accurate idea of someone from as I say random fragments. Would be easier if there was a profile or page that held all of it... oh wait....

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Fragmented posts and usernames from across the net via google arent going to be anywhere near as accurate as a FB profile. Simply as the information there looking up is not necessarily you.

Nor can you build an accurate idea of someone from as I say random fragments. Would be easier if there was a profile or page that held all of it... oh wait....

 

Well still, if it's public there's no real thing they can (or should) do to ban it if you ask me.

 

And that is something I'll never know. Ambroos is my real first name and there are very few people named Ambroos on the internet.

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