FTC says yes to Facebook background checks

U.S. Federal Trade Commission has given legal permission to a company to archive 7 years of Facebook posts as part of their background checking service. While this obviously holds significance for this specific business, the larger issue spreads across the pre-employment background screening industry as a whole. Where should the line be drawn between personal life and work life? And at what point can one distinguish between fair and unfair discrimination? The main argument for social media background checks is that it will allow employers to choose more carefully potential employees for their company. Through interviews, resumes and references, an applicant can easily bend their knowledge and experience to suit the employers need. Reviewing a Facebook page will give an employer a further insight into the applicants life – learning about how they live away from the workplace. So what are the arguments against? Well there seem to be two significant ones. Firstly, many claim that it is important to keep personal life and work life separate. Job seekers state that what they do at the weekend bears no relation to how they perform while at work. Furthermore, opinions are subjective. It would be highly unfair if a hiring manager were to reject you simply based on their own opinions of what you do in your social life, if that activity were more than acceptable to others. The second issue is that of unlawful discrimination. A Facebook page has a lot of information on it that it is illegal for hiring managers to ask, such as sexual orientation, religion and gender. It will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to glean certain information from a Facebook page while selectively ignoring others. Even if you believe you are not allowing this information to affect your choice, you cannot prevent it clouding your judgment at least a little. While it has been legally decided that this sort of background check is acceptable, it isn’t clear whether people believe it to be ethically or socially ok. In the majority of cases, most candidates will be hoping that the hiring manager is a level-headed individual, who will only judge applicants on relevant information.]]>

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