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Should Employers Snoop on Employees’ Social-Media Activity?

May 12, 2014


Many employers are scrutinizing job candidates’ online presences before making decisions, and a growing number of employees are losing their jobs because of their social-media posts, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 43 percent of employers said they had rejected a candidate because of something they found about that person online — such as inappropriate photos or information, or posts criticizing a former boss. A much smaller number of employers, 19 percent, said they had found information online that encouraged them to select a candidate, such as good communication skills or a professional image.
Nancy Flynn, founder of the ePolicy Institute, a firm that helps employers limit email and Internet risks, argues that management has a right and responsibility to monitor employees’ social media use at all times. Disgruntled employees can criticize customers, harass subordinates “and otherwise misbehave” on social media, she says. Strict monitoring helps employers spot potential problems early, get the information offline and discipline the employees involved, says Flynn, who also believes that companies should ask for access to employees’ Facebook accounts and other private social media accounts.
Others argue that company scrutiny of employees’ social media activities can lead to discrimination. Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, says that most of what employees post online “has nothing to do with work, takes place during their private lives and is done on their personal computers.” — Greg Beaubien


Chris Souther says:

While we're all probably guilty, this is a legal minefield. With the tracking available today, a motivated, rejected candidate could make a case that their social media profile(s) were viewed by a hiring manager and he or she was rejected based on something the hiring manager didn't like. There's a burden of proof on both sides, but it's best left along. It's best to have someone from HR do a Social Screen and there should be a pre-prepared and legally approved screening document that clearly outlines the kinds of things being looked for. There are lots of good articles about this topic, like this one:

May 21, 2014

Scott Enk says:

Who do ePolicy Institute head Nancy Flynn and the nosy employers she backs think they are? Generally, what you and I do on social media, or otherwise, off workplace premises and on our own time is none of her or any employer's goldarned frickin' business. The slimy practice of out-of-control employers "asking" job applicants and even employees for private social media passwords as a condition of employment has, commendably, now in most cases been banned by law in many U.S. states, including my own Wisconsin (even with its highly conservative Legislature and "pro-business" governor!). Let's call on Congress to enact such a ban nationwide. Would Ms. Flynn, with her dubious, dangerous "reasoning," support employers that "ask" job applicants and workers to let them monitor their library or financial records, put cameras in their homes, and make them wear microphones 24/7? Once one allows any employer to dictate one aspect of one’s private life, where does it stop? We American workers are finally saying "This stops here" to out-of-control employers. Let's make blanket, not-for-cause workplace drug testing and credit checks the next abuses by some -- many -- employers of your and my rights and privacy to end.

July 5, 2014

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