Using social media platforms (particularly Facebook) to do background checks on potential employees has more and more become an attractive option for business owners and management the past couple of years. However, it’s important to note that it’s not without tremendous risk and should be approached with the utmost caution.
The truth is that the advent of Twitter and Facebook have allowed us to see sides of people we don’t necessarily want to see and some of those instances have made the news. You know the ones. The manager who posts a picture of himself/herself drunk and passed out on a friend’s couch at a party. The off-duty cop who posts a picture of himself/herself at a party with a bong on a table in the background. The list goes on and on.
There are some obvious instances where the information is undeniably incriminating, usually as a result of a supposedly mature adult showing unbelievably bad judgement. However, the trend has been to dig for other more personal information on these forums and that’s where the trouble begins. Although the failure to check out social media platforms for information could be used to argue the point of negligent hiring, an employer takes a great risk in using these platforms. Discrimination is a huge area of debate, as are the basic points of privacy and accuracy.
The first point to consider is accuracy. Consider online dating sites. How many people lie about their age, their looks, their work situation, their accomplishments, etc.? Yep, none of us can count that high. Because of these kinds of exaggerations, an employer is faced with the question “Is this really true?” For instance, while a person may have been completely honest on their resume, they may list other accomplishments and places of employment on their social media profile. They may have bragged on their Facebook page about how drunk they got at a party last night when in fact they were at home watching TV.
Employers obviously want to hire dependable people of good character. At the same time, they must be very careful with the Pandora’s Box of information they’re opening by using social media resources for background checks. In Part 2, we will look at the privacy and discrimination part of this dilemma.
Categories: Social Media