Aug 09, 2011

Is it wrong to check an Employee's Facebook account?

Should companies check out an employee's activities on Facebook and Linked In? Are there legal ramifications that might arise from doing research on perspective employees, even when using publicly available resources? Now that there is so much competition for jobs, how  should we be vetting new hires to insure that they are who they say they are, and that they know as much as they promise?

I can't answer the legal part of it, I'm not a lawyer.

I do think, however, that checking that sort of thing is probably becoming fairly common. Companies often want a reference point on who the person is beyond just what is on his or her resume. So a bit of online background checking probably happens quite often.

Potential employees need to be aware of this and should be careful about posting potentially compromising text, photos and videos if they might affect a hiring decision.

A person needs to be conscious of what they put online and who is allowed to see it. However, just because you have an online profile doesn't give an employer the right to base employment status decisions based on what a person does on their time. Employers don't "own" employees, they simply rent their time for a price.


Yes and no. It comes down to in my opinion what the job is. If its for a VP - yes, customer interaction - yes, money involved - yes. Otherwise no.


I'm sure that some HR departments don't give a damn about the law or invasion of privacy, since finding pix of workers drunk at a bar singing karaoke could be a good excuse for letting go some of the "dead weight" that's holding a company back. You know, like the sales guy who doesn't really work all that hard but just collects commissions on renewal orders. The problem is when it's used to get rid of women when they get pregnant or perhaps it could be used to discriminate against minorities. In this tough business climate, why would anyone promote any part of their private lives to perfect strangers? I know plenty of people who have quit Facebook because of fear that they would be just become targets at work when the layoffs come.


Checking an employee's Facebook account seems like an invasion of privacy. But then again, if he's posted information on a public website, how could he complain? Won't HR policy need to be rewritten to specify how Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts are checked? I sure wouldn't want my boss posting messages to me on Facebook.

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