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Is It Ethical For Employers To Use Social Networking Sites To Check Out Potential Employees

Updated on November 24, 2017

The social media has transformed the interaction between people, be it friends, family, workmates or even just acquaintances. The information available through the social media makes it easy to know a person before and without actually meeting them. Of all the websites dedicated to social media, Facebook perhaps has the most fame and members. It is actually estimated that of 10 people 8 are Facebook members. This is perhaps the leading reason why many people look for past friends, classmates or even new acquaintances on Facebook. The trend has picked up even with potential employers, who check on new employees or applicants on Facebook. Many employers have admitted to checking out future employees and applicants on Facebook. Due to this infringement on private information that many proper are not willing to share with potential employers. While on one hand it is agreeable that employers have every right to find out all they can with regard with people they are considering for employment, it is also a fact that some of the information found on Facebook can be misleading or misinterpreted to make a candidate seem unworthy.

The ethics of using Facebook as a means of check king future employees have often been questioned by the candidates themselves and the unions representing workers. There are people who have actually gone as far as blocking their profiles and information from potential employers, while others have created profiles that are more acceptable to future employers. The use of Facebook by employers is a most controversial issue.

For employers, Facebook gives a preview into the character and potential of future employees. Previously, access to such information was a difficult task and almost impossible. For this reason, many employers found that at times they hired people who were not right for their business and companies. Future employees can easily misrepresent themselves to the employers presenting themselves as much more acceptable and worthy of the job than they actually are. For this reason, Facebook has made things much easier for the employers. By taking a look at a future employee’s information on the profiles and other features of Facebook, they can be sure that whoever they hire will fit into their organization and company better. For example there are some organizations including churches, religious organization and political organization who require future employees to have specific religious and political views or belong to certain doctrines and philosophies. Instead of having to take chances that the person they hire has actually developed the same vies as the company, the employers can check the information on Facebook and therefore pick only the candidates whose profiles and posted information indicates they have the same religious or political views as the organization. In addition, employers can have access to comments by the candidate’s friends and families with regard to the information they have posted on their Facebook profiles to guarantee that the same information is not misrepresented. Employers can easily judge the inherent value, character and personality of the future employees and candidates for jobs in their companies.

Facebook has lowered labor turn over in companies. Previously companies relied on information provided by the candidates for employment and the impressions received during the interview process. However, it is common to note that such information and impression though implied can often be misrepresented. It is easy for candidates to hide information, data and characteristics that would otherwise be considered as deal breakers for the future employers. These include political views, and certain characteristics that may not be acceptable to the company. When individuals who are not compatible with the requirements, rules and regulations of the company are employed, there is a high labor turn over. Such high turnover often proves to be quite costly to the employers, who once again have to spend money in the recruitment process. Recruiting, hiring and training of new employees are a costly process which many companies like to avoid. In addition, high turnover often gives a bad impression to future clients and customers of the company. Normally to check on future candidates would necessitate hours of extra work trying to access information and check referees, or hiring detectives to do the work for employers. While this is profitable to detective and search agencies, the process is very costly and unjustifiable to companies especially the small companies and employers. Facebook has made things easy for companies and employers looking to find information on potential employees without spending much. All they have to do is access the internet and gain access to the candidates’ information.

However, it is important to note that many people consider access to future employee information via Facebook a violation of privacy. The information posted on Facebook is very personal. Whereas employers consider it important to sometimes know the religious, political and personal characteristics of future employees, much of this information is considered private. The personal information shared on Facebook is meant for increased social network and most of the time bears negatively to professional outlooks. The information is meant for friends and acquaintances and could be misinterpreted by future employers. The easy access to information is also an open avenue towards legal liabilities. Often companies have found themselves facing liabilities when it comes to accessing employee information and future candidate’s information via social networks such as Facebook. Given the volatility of the path taken on accessing information on Facebook, it is probably a wiser decision for employers to avoid such tactics. The law has taken a serious and dedicated stand towards protecting the privacy of individuals in this new age of the internet. Many people have found themselves in trouble for accessing private information without permission from the owners of the information. Whereas accessing information can be easy for companies and employers the effects can be detrimental. The civil suits for violating or flirting with privacy issues are many and the judgments of decisions made with each one vary enormously. This is why many legal experts see Facebook checkups as a minefield for employers.

Facebook has its many benefits for employers, mainly by being a free flow information channel. However, for employers who check on potential employees via this social network there is need to be more careful. The information cannot be relied upon to make potential judgment with regard to potential employees. The benefits of accessing such information need to be weighed carefully against the detriments such as legal and civil battles in addition to false information. The chances of getting fully truthful information on the internet are quite low and although the information employers get on the Facebook profiles could be helpful in picking potential candidates it cannot be used to judge the character and potential of employees in the entirety.


Facebook is an entire information package that is quite cheap and easy to access. However, the information found on the internet can not only be misleading but also untruthful. Almost 90% of the internet users admit to changing information in their profiles to become more suitable to outside employers and friends. In addition, Facebook has recently put in measures where people can protect the information they have posted on their profiles. Gaining access to such information is therefore becoming more and more difficult for companies and employers. There are also some internet users who have admitted to making phony profiles that can be accessed by the employers but which contain a majority of false information. Employers therefore access what they may interpret to be truthful or somewhat truthful information; however, they come to realize quite late that the information is quite false.

© 2011 Adrienne F Manson


Submit a Comment
  • smcopywrite profile image


    6 years ago from all over the web

    I believe you have the right to check it out only if I give you permission. I am giving you my resume and an interview. my personal life is mine alone. this being said, an entire generation needs to learn that personal means not sharing it with the world.

    technology and the law need to catch up to things like social networking and what is legal and illegal when it comes to using this info for things like hiring new workers or firing current employees

  • realtalk247 profile image


    7 years ago

    I think it's wrong unless you are representative, in politics, or in a position of power and authority such as a district principal/legislator/civil rights leader or something that requires a good reputation.

    People need to recognize the difference between a business/job and someone's personal life because one is not all the same. While I think all should be cautious of what they post, it is important for people to realize that you are not intitled to knowing everything about your life. Work means I give you hours of my time in exchange for dollars but they do not have the right to your personal life.

  • Melody McKinnon profile image

    Melody McKinnon 

    7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Back in the old days the advice was "Never write anything down that you don't want others to find out about." It's still true today.

    Keep your profiles private but continue to conduct yourself as you would in any public place. That doesn't mean you can't be yourself. Who wants to work for an employer who doesn't understand that Facebook reflects your casual persona, so it's OK that you mentioned having a glass of wine?

    I have young relatives, conservative neighbors, and my Mother on Facebook so I conduct myself accordingly. I wouldn't feel at all threatened by a potential employer seeing that. However, that information is limited to 'Friends', which only demonstrates good common sense in general. I wouldn't feel obligated to add a potential employer as a friend - they should know that's overstepping acceptable recruitment boundaries.

  • jeremytorres profile image


    8 years ago

    Great information!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    8 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Even if your profile is in a private setting on Facebook, a potential employer could always 'friend' you. Refusal to friend or ignoring a request could look shifty.

  • RNMSN profile image

    Barbara Bethard 

    8 years ago from Tucson, Az

    I really enjoyed this article Adrienne it is much better written than the high falutin ones on the net! I totally blockedd facebook from the get daughter made me :) funny huh all those yrs ago and it was my dtr that said Momma, protect your stuff! only let friends see you page! what a smart cookie :)

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 

    9 years ago from USA

    Howdy adrienne2 - Several things here. (1) This article is well-written and is likely to be useful to readers. (2) If you are going to refer your facebook account and its profile to some potential future employer, you should be truthful as to what you display in the profile. Faking things to get hired can rapidly lead to being fired if what was in the profile is really not you. (3) It is unwise to put anything onto the Internet that you would prefer that folks other than you should not be able to access.

    Thanks for the fine article.

    Gus :-)))


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