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Social Media: Should You Use it When Hiring?


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Should you use social media to gather information on potential employees?

This is a complicated question because only 12 states currently have laws specific to social media and hiring practices. Since the onslaught of social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook some employers have asked prior to hiring, to access a candidate’s Facebook site or after hiring for them to connect with someone in their HR department so their postings can be monitored to ideally protect the company’s reputation.

Congress is considering several measures that would make that it illegal for employers to ask or require Facebook passwords or connections. Even though the information is put on the public internet, it could be used to discriminate against a potential employee, and then the employer could be subject to lawsuits.

Questions regarding religion, sexual orientation, race, marital status are not allowed under Title VII and the EEOC. Although no laws currently governing Facebook, employers using it to screen candidates run the risk of violating other laws, including Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and discrimination laws.

“The FCRA requires employers to notify job applicants and obtain their consent before conducting a background check,” according to Rita Zeidner, in an article in HR Magazine. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77 percent of employers now use social networking to recruit candidates, up from 34 percent six years ago.

There are third-party firms like Social Intelligence that conduct social media searches for employers, looking for violent, racist or other illegal behavior but redacting any information that's illegal to consider.

A wise employer should request a potential candidate sign a background release form, before conducting any background check and to steer clear of any social media sites that could be used to discriminate in the hiring process.

Posted in: For Employers