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Should employers use Facebook for screening applicants during the hiring process?

With continued advancement in technology especially in the communication sector, one area that has captured the attention of majority is the use of social networking platforms. One particular site that is most commonly used all over the world is “Facebook”. The site, founded in 2004 by a former Harvard undergraduate, Mark Zuckerberg, was initially only available for use among cliques of college students. Further developments led to its availability to everyone in 2006. The site provides a subscriber’s information such as name, friends, gender, picture, place of birth and current city to the public (Lory, pg. 2).
The use of Facebook by employers for screening applicants during the hiring process has elicited a debate among different stakeholders with some questioning the credibility of the technique as well as the ethical aspects surrounding the use of social networking sites in employee recruitment exercises. Workplace surveys have shown that more than 30% of employers use Facebook to gather data on potential recruits. Those in support on this method of screening claim that it gives the employer important information concerning the candidate which would help him/her hire the most appropriate of the candidates. Similarly the candidates can use the site to create useful connections with the potential employers as well as promoting their profile. It is the responsibility of the candidates to therefore ensure that the information they avail on the site to the public does not in any way compromise on their chances in career opportunities (Tavani, pg.131).
Those opposed to the use of Facebook in the hiring process argue that it is unfair and discriminatory. The approach does not provide for a standard playing field since not all potential recruits could be Facebook subscribers. The decisions to hire should therefore not be based on the information as it may not necessarily portray the particular individual’s character. Unless an employer has a genuine and legitimate reason in relation to the job, a potential employee’s personal information should be avoided. It is unethical for one to seek some ones personal information in secret or without their consent and then use it to judge someone’s character (Engler and Tanoury, Para 9).
Furthermore, based on legal grounds, it would be considered invasion of personal privacy for an employer to use the information of a potential recruit and the social site specifically states that it is against the law to use a subscriber’s profile data for commercial purposes. There also exists a high probability that the users of the Facebook social networking site do not necessarily post information that may be considered true or carrying any meaning. The potential employer should therefore only rely on all the information the applicant gives during an interview. Any business that intends to use the Facebook platform in the hiring process must develop a procedure based on legally acceptable grounds to do so (Grimmelmann, pg.44).
The use of Facebook by employers could be actually giving the opposite results of what they expect. It is probable that they are dismissing qualified candidates based on inaccurate assumptions from the information obtained on Facebook posts. The uses of the applicants’ profiles on Facebook by employers will only force potential applicants modify their profiles to fit what employers are looking for. this in turn will effectively keep the information the employer would have required away and instead only access the favorable information as displayed.at the end, the employers will still end with up with recruits whose characters they do not know (Engler and Tanoury, Para 12).

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