online privacy | March 27, 2012

Should Companies Check Facebook Accounts of Potential Hires?

The job market just got a lot tougher, for employers, employees, and human resource departments alike. A new trend finds some companies going so far as to ask potential hires for access to their social media accounts—leading to bigger questions about online rights and privacy. A recent Toronto Star article tackled this topic, turning to acclaimed digital strategist Amber Mac for her thoughts. Mac, who charts the collision of the workplace and Internet usage for Fast Company, among others, argues that "online privacy is essentially a misnomer." Despite your best efforts to heighten profile security settings, she says, "details posted to a relatively secure profile could go public with one mouse click from a rogue contact."

Here's Amber:

I could talk about privacy forever in terms of the different settings within Facebook, but the reality is ... I don’t think you’ll ever be able to have a truly private experience online. You may want to look at what you are sharing and try and clean up your act a little bit.

Adding his thoughts to this practice, open innovation speaker David Eaves says that job candidates with an honest, warts-and-all online presence may actually hold an advantage over those with a suspiciously clean online footprint. In the video above, filmed at The Lavin Agency’s Toronto offices, Eaves predicts that the ubiquity of social media in our lives may eventually lead to a more forgiving approach from potential employers. "If there's not a certain amount of your life that's open and online," Eaves says, "people may not believe you."