Should Job Applicants Using Social Media Expect Privacy?

Written By Thomas Ahearn

ESR News Blogs about PrivacyExpectations of privacy rights on social media websites is buttressed by the fact that users must agree to “terms of use” that typically do not allow commercial uses which can include screening job candidates, according to the article Does an Applicant on the Internet Have a “Reasonable Expectation” of Privacy? Part II by Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR). The complete article is available on the RecruitingTrends.com at http://www.recruitingtrends.com/thought-leadership/575-idoes-an-applicant-on-the-internet-have-a-reasonable-expectation-of-privacy-part-ii.

In the article, Rosen – author of  ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’– explains that since users of social media websites must agree to “terms of use” and set up their own account to get details of other members “there is an expectation that the whole world won’t be privy to confidential information.” However, Rosen also writes that employers can argue that routine boilerplate “terms of use” language is not a privacy barrier on social media and “if applicants fail to utilize available privacy controls provided by the website that undercuts any reasonable belief that what was on the website would remain confidential.”

Rosen writes: One reason that the use of social networking sites presents a risk stems from their original purpose. In the beginning, users intended to limit access to friends or members of their own network, arguably creating a reasonable expectation of privacy. It’s like a “cyber high school,” but instead people seeing friends near lockers, they can see friends and make contacts all over the world. Younger workers in particular may well regard invading their social network sites in the same way older worker may regard someone that crashes a private dinner party uninvited – a tasteless act that violates privacy.

Rosen concludes the issue of whether job applicants have a reasonable expectation of privacy on social media websites from the eyes of employers is far from being settled. One thing does seem certain: if employers use subterfuge, such as creating a fake online identity, the privacy line has probably been crossed.  Rosen will speak about ‘Legal Pitfalls & Minefields in the New Age of Recruiting’ at the Recruiting Trends Conference that takes place October 28-30, 2014 at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, NN. For information about his presentation, please visit http://www.recruitingtrends.com/conference.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a nationwide background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – has released a complimentary white paper ‘Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks’ to help employers understand the possible risks of using social media to screen job applicants, available for download at http://www.esrcheck.com/Stay-Updated/Download/. To contact ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.

Privacy and Social Media – Part 1

A blog about Part 1 of Rosen’s article ‘Is Using the Internet to Recruit a Violation of an Applicant’s Privacy? Part I’ is available on the Recruiting Trends at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2014/06/10/privacy-big-issue-recruiting-applicants-internet/.