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Employers checking Facebook: an unwarranted intrusion or a check on unwarranted behavior?

"Creeping" is a word used by some to describe those who scour through Facebook and examine other people's profiles. This is  commonly known and accepted by many Facebook users. But what if your employer had the right to "creep" on our Facebook accounts? We seem to have no problems when our Facebook friends do this, and many leave their profiles open for the whole world to see. But what if your boss has legitimate reasons for accessing your profile? If an employee is performing poorly or is consistently absent or late, an employer may have an interest in getting to the bottom of the  misconduct. Access to an employee Facebook page may accomplish this.   

 

            In the US one out of three people, more than 128 million, visit Facebook every day. Employers have already started using social media in the hiring process to determine if an applicant would be suitable for their company. In addition to traditional background checks, a growing number of employers check social media before hiring a new employee. Employers check for inappropriate posts, lewd pictures, hateful rants, racial slurs, or even any illegal activity such as drug use. A Facebook status riddled with spelling errors would not bode well for an employer who focuses on customer service.

 

            Employers are also taking the next step and checking their current employees' social media pages. A teacher in Georgia was pressured to resign after she posted pictures of her on Facebook holding alcoholic beverages in each hand and used a profane word in one of her posts. If a company is considering layoffs, Facebook could be a place to start weed out those whose lifestyle does not mesh with the culture of the company. If an employee is performing poorly or is consistently absent, employers can get a better feel for their employees' personal lives just by looking at an employee's Facebook profile. The employer can determine if the employee is lying when he/she called out sick for the week and went on a vacation to the Bahamas, or if the employee is coming in late or performing poorly due to being hung-over.

 

Unfortunately, your privacy is not protected here. Facebook is a public media site with the intent of creating an open community where people can communicate from across the world. Everything posted is fair game. So even if strict privacy settings are in place, you should strive to keep personal activities as private as they can be. With the assistance of Charles J. Vaccaro, J.D. Candidate May 2015.

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