Legal, Policies, and Ethics

Social Media.

At first glance it appears completely harmless, and is even a great way to connect with friends. What many don’t remember is once you release pictures, videos, or even tweets out to the social media world, you can never fully take them back. Sure things can be taken down, erased, and forgotten about. Seems like an easy fix.

However, viruses will happen, people will save things to their computers, and things will eventually creep back into the universe, especially when it comes to future employers. Security settings are customizable, but users shouldn’t be solely dependent on social mediums for protection.

CareerBuilder found that 37 percent of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job applicants, with over 65 percent of that group using Facebook as their primary resource.

According to the Huffington Post, “In Bozeman, Mont., hiring managers asked job seekers to divulge the usernames and passwords to ‘any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.’ on their application forms, CNET reported. Shortly thereafter, Facebook even issued a statement saying they objected to the practice not only on ethical grounds, but on legal grounds as well.”

According to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a law firm with a large labor and employment practices, “Employers should review their Internet and social media policies to determine whether they are susceptible to an allegation that the policy would ‘reasonably tend to chill employees’ in the exercise of their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.”

The New York Times released a story about an employee who was fired due to the criticism she posted about her supervisor on her Facebook page. 

Many employers feel that they are entitled to unlimited access to any form of social media, especially when it is related to their employees or company. The labor board responded to this issue with a statement issued by Lafe Solomon, the labor board’s acting general said, “This is a fairly straightforward case under the National Labor Relations Act — whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”




One thought on “Legal, Policies, and Ethics

  1. This definitely just reinforces to me the importance of new laws when it comes to social media. If employers are hiring (or more likely, not hiring) someone because of their social media presence – is that considered discrimination? Something to think about! 🙂 Great article!

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