Copyright 2010 by Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. For reprints, call HBS Publishing at (800) 545-7685.
Business Horizons (2010) 53, 491—499
You’ve been tagged! (Then again, maybe not):
Employers and Facebook
William P. Smith a,*, Deborah L. Kidder b a b
College of Business & Economics, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252, U.S.A.
University of Hartford, 200 Bloomﬁeld Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117, U.S.A.
Abstract Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have exploded on to the cultural and business landscape. Not only can ﬁrms use social networking sites to present organizational information to interested parties, but also perhaps gather information regarding job applicants. As an employer, checking out an applicant’s
Facebook page–—much like Googling a candidate’s name–—is very tempting. It is understandable that managers would like to know as much about a candidate as possible. Facebook pages can provide a wealth of information beyond, or even possibly contradicting, an applicant’s submitted documents. While this may represent a potentially useful tool, there are several reasons for caution. For instance, an organization’s selection process may be biased if an applicant’s Facebook page contains inaccurate information, if some applicants do not have Facebook pages, and/or if legally protected demographic information ends up being part of the selection process. Facebook’s own policies suggest that an organization may face legal challenges if it considers an applicant’s Facebook page as part of the selection process. Just as importantly, there are ethical issues–—in particular, an individual’s right to privacy–—which must be considered. We wish to encourage organizations to develop guidelines regarding the use of social networking sites in the application process, based on the practical, legal, and ethical issues covered in this article.
# 2010 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.
‘‘We have a Facebook page,’’ said one ofﬁcial of the Department of Homeland Security. ‘‘But we don’t allow people to look at Facebook in the ofﬁce. So we have to go home to use it. I ﬁnd this bizarre.’’ (Hansell, 2009)
* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (W.P. Smith), email@example.com (D.L. Kidder).
A co-worker apologized to me recently for being slow on a task. ‘‘It’s probably just your insomnia from last night,’’ I said. She was confused about how I knew, but I reminded her we were Facebook friends, and that she had posted a ‘status update’ about her sleeplessness.
‘‘I’m 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and
0007-6813/$ — see front matter # 2010 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2010.04.004 This document is authorized for use only by Jian Liu in Foundations of HR Sept 5 2012 taught by Vincent Suppa from August 2012 to February 2013.
For the exclusive use of J. LIU
W.P. Smith, D.L. Kidder
inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me,’’ Phelps said.
‘‘For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public–—it will not happen again.’’ - Michael
Phelps, following the disclosure of pictures posted to Facebook showing him smoking marijuana (CNN, 2009)
1. Logging on: The emergence of social networking
Social networking sites represent a new stage in the evolution of the Internet, what is sometimes termed
Web 2.0. Web 2.0 and social networking sites are characterized by user-driven content, combined with interactivity with other users; this dynamic electronic environment extends far beyond static personal Web pages. The most popular social networking sites include Facebook, MySpace,…