Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP
Eileen Morgan Johnson USA July 22 2010
This is the first of two articles on the potential legal issues that can arise from the use of social media in the workplace. The articles will cover the use of social media in pre-employment, employment and post-employment situations.
Employers are taking advantage of the free information on social media websites and communication tools to screen applicants or to perform pre-offer due diligence on successful applicants. It's not just people in their 20's and 30's who have online profiles and the use of social media by human resource professionals is not a passing fad.
There are a variety of resources that can be consulted such as LinkedIn®, MySpace™ and Facebook. Users of these three sites create an individual profile that can include information about their work history, extracurricular activities, and contacts. Other sites such as Twitter™ and YouTube can also yield information on applicants that might be valuable in making a decision to extend or withhold an offer of employment. For those employers who are unsure about using social media sites, a simple search using Google™ or some other search engine can also yield potentially interesting information.
What are employers looking for? Social media profiles can provide a lot of valuable information. While an employer should not rely solely on these sites to verify information on employment applications, they can be used to discredit applicants or to provide another view of the person behind the resume or online application.
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