You've been tagged! (Then again, maybe not): Employers and Facebook
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have exploded on to the cultural and business landscape. Not only can firms use social networking sites to present organizational information to interested parties, but also perhaps gather information regarding job applicants. As an employer, checking out an applicant's Facebook page--much like Googling a candidate's name--is very tempting. It is understandable that managers would like to know as much about a candidate as possible. Facebook pages can provide a wealth of information beyond, or even possibly contradicting, an applicant's submitted documents. While this may represent a potentially useful tool, there are several reasons for caution. For instance, an organization's selection process may be biased if an applicant's Facebook page contains inaccurate information, if some applicants do not have Facebook pages, and/or if legally protected demographic information ends up being part of the selection process. Facebook's own policies suggest that an organization may face legal challenges if it considers an applicant's Facebook page as part of the selection process. Just as importantly, there are ethical issues--in particular, an individual's right to privacy--which must be considered. We wish to encourage organizations to develop guidelines regarding the use of social networking sites in the application process, based on the practical, legal, and ethical issues covered in this article.
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