Let’s talk about: Is e-recruiting screening of social media’s legal?


In these modern times, the internet has come to stay and evolve the way humans communicate with each other.The creation of social networking sites has allowed people to interact in ways that previous generations have never seen (Andrew S. Hazelton & Ashley Terhorst, 2015).  The purpose of social media has always been to expand the connection and interactions we have online with other users. It has served as a personal portal where every user shares information with others in order to create online conversations. But as the years have passed, social media has extended another branch of its trunk: e-recruiting. With e-recruiting, social media websites have evolved into more than just a personal space; it has evolved into a space that might be looked into and judged in order to define how you would fit into a company. Just look at the chart below where Hazelton and Terhorst (2015) argue that at least 70% of companies search the applicant’s Facebook and Twitter in order to find if they are fit to work in the Company. At the same time, that same amount of companies (70%) have admitted to reject candidates based on the data found online.

How companies use social media

Based on these facts and knowledge, one question keeps surfacing: Is it entirely legal for companies to be searching private outlets like Facebook and Twitter?  The answer that comes to mind is an immediate “no”. But think about all the people that go through your social medias, if you are creating a profile you are making it public for everybody to see. Even though it is your personal space it is free to be seen by anyone with a link to it. Unless the privacy settings are manipulated to divulge only what the user wants. Either way we look at it, it makes us feel uncomfortable. But the real answer here is: “Yes”. The companies can search for you Facebook or Twitter, is what they do with the information that they find that is on the brink of legal or unlawful.  In this table I’m showing below, I pinpoint where the companies have to watch out for legal errors.


Situation Is it Legal?
Violation of user’s privacy settings in order to screen applicant’s profile (Yioula Melanthiou, Fotis Pavlou and Eleni Constantinou, 2014) Not legal. Could end up in a lawsuit if applicant is ever to find out.
Use the social media posts, likes, interests, pictures and information shared in order to identify which personality traits of the user fit the company (Melanthiou et al., 2014) Unethical. How accurate can this be? Many users behave differently inside the workspace than they do in their daily lives.
If a user has been a case of identity theft (Melanthiou et al., 2014) Not legal. This creates a problem because if the profile has been hacked the company might not know it and this could end up in a rejection. Companies need to be aware of this problem because if the applicant finds out about this rejection, it can end in a lawsuit.
Discrimination (Melanthiou et al., 2014) Not legal and unethical. If any applicant finds out that its information (sex, gender, age, religion or disabilities) has been used for a job screening then the applicant should take legal action.
If applicant finds out that its social media has been used for screening but no privacy had been breached (Hazelton and Terhorst, 2015). This is not unlawful, but it is unethical. The company should inform every applicant that their social media website will be looked into. That way the applicant has the option to agree and sign up for the position or if to reject (Hazelton and Terhorst, 2015).


Applicants need to understand that their current actions via social media can lead to any future problems, Hazelton and Terhorst (2015), argue.  Just as companies need to be careful when they are screening an applicant not to fall into the unlawful side and land a lawsuit. Yet, the cautions should be taken because it is legal and ethical to screen an applicant through social media just as long as no privacy setting is breached, Melanthiou et al. (2014) support. Regardless of what any applicant does, it is inevitable that their social media profile will be looked at. Which means that it is important for all social media users to be aware of what they write in their social media profiles.

→Tell me what you think! Do you think it should be entirely illegal to screen an applicant through their social media? Have you been rejected because of any social media profile? Come on, tell me what you think. I want to read your experience!!

⇒⇒⇒Want to know more? Here, follow my references⇐⇐⇐

Melanthiou, Y., Pavlou, F., & Constantinou, E. (2015). The Use of Social Network Sites as an E-Recruitment Tool. Journal of Transnational Management, 20(1), 31-49

Hazelton, A. S. & Terhorst, A. (2015) Legal and Ethical Considerations for Social Media Hiring Practices in the Workplace.  The Hilltop Review: Vol. 7: Iss. 2, Article 7. Retrieved form:  http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol7/iss2/7


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