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legal news & tips for employees published by Law Office of Eugene Lee


Employers Are Now Screening Employee Facebook and MySpace Pages

Do you have a personal account with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or any of the other social media websites that have become so popular lately? Chances are you do. Or you will soon. The growth of social media sites has been nothing short of breathtaking. Here are a few statistics:

  1. According to a 2009 Anderson Analytics report, the US has a total population of 305 million. Of that, 187 million are online. Of that, roughly 60%, 110 million, are using social network sites of one form or another. (“New Anderson Analytics Social Media Study – US Social Network Services”).
  2. Another 2009 Anderson Analytics report estimates that social networking sites have the following numbers of users: Facebook: 78 million; MySpace: 67 million users; Twitter: 17 million; LinkedIn: 11 million. (“New Social Media Study: Facebook Trumps Other Social Media as Most Valuable; Majority of Users Can’t Do Without Popular Site”).
  3. The total minutes spent on Facebook increased from 1.7 billion in April 2008 to 13.9 billion in April 2009. (Nielsen Wire: “Time Spent on Facebook up 700%, but MySpace Still Tops for Video”).

Getting to know people through a social networking site can be fun and rewarding. But as with the rest of the Internet, it comes with risks for the unwary.

According to a 2009 Harris Interactive survey of 2,667 HR professionals, 45% of them said that they go to social networking sites to research job candidates. Another 11% plan to do so soon. (“45% of Employers Now Screen Social Media Profiles”). The study also found 35% of employers decided not to hire a candidate due to content found on their social networking page. Here were some of the big no-nos that HR professionals reported:

  1. Posting indiscreet photos and info: 53% of employers won’t hire you
  2. Posting activity involving alcohol and/or drugs: 44% of employers won’t hire you
  3. Badmouthing former employers: 35% of employers won’t hire you

The trend isn’t limited to just employers. Some lawyers have begun researching social networking sites to gain more information about i) the lawyers on the other side, ii) the parties on the other side, iii) the jurors sitting in on their trials, and even iv) the judges overseeing their lawsuits. While there isn’t any hard data regarding this phenomenon, I have come across a large amount of anecdotal evidence. I have heard tell of other employment lawyers suddenly being confronted by their opponents with damaging, lawsuit-losing information contained in the Facebook pages of their own clients at the most inopportune times.

Some tips to keep in mind for those of you who are Facebooking or MySpacing:

  1. Don’t be an oversharer. People have a tendency to reveal far more private details on social networking sites than they ever would in person. Don’t be the “Too Much Information” guy or gal. Err on the side of disclosing less.
  2. Don’t hit that submit button too quickly. Always take a second or two to think before you release a picture or a note into the wild. Once it’s out there, chances are you won’t be able to reel it back in.
  3. Don’t accept every invitation to connect with someone that comes your way. Think twice before you “friend” an employer, a co-worker, a subordinate, a stranger whose identity you haven’t verified, etc.
  4. Do imagine how the information on your page would look to i) a current or potential employer, ii) your co-workers and business acquaintances, iii) the judge and jury if you’re considering a lawsuit, iv) your great-great-grandkids (“Hey kids, look, here’s your great great grandmother lying naked, wrapped around a toilet with a bottle of vodka on her face and obscenities written in permanent marker all over her body”).
  5. Do review the privacy settings for your account. Sites like Facebook permit you to decide which pictures and information you will show to which circles of friends and acquaintances.
  6. Do a Google search of your name periodically to see what comes up. If something damaging or embarrassing comes up, perhaps it can be repaired.

So do yourself a big favor. If you’re going to share on Facebook or MySpace, do it the smart way. Or you might end up like the woman in the picture above.



  • Jane Susan

    Thanks for this information. I want to help job seekers to avoid this kind of matter.

    http://www.bigjobsboard.com

    Thank You and Good Luck!

  • Jane Susan

    Thanks for this information. I want to help job seekers to avoid this kind of matter.

    http://www.bigjobsboard.com

    Thank You and Good Luck!

  • Jane Susan

    Thanks for this information. I want to help job seekers to avoid this kind of matter.

    http://www.bigjobsboard.com

    Thank You and Good Luck!

  • Jonny

    Yes I can understand why it would be stupid to rant like this girl has on her facebook page (if it’s not fake), but on the other hand

    Why is the ‘Boss’ so ticked off at the fact that, oh my gosh one my employers doesn’t think I’m that great. Maybe there could be a bit of a wake up call as to how bad an environment his workplace has obviously become, instead of firing her for calling him a “wanker”.

  • Jonny

    Yes I can understand why it would be stupid to rant like this girl has on her facebook page (if it’s not fake), but on the other hand

    Why is the ‘Boss’ so ticked off at the fact that, oh my gosh one my employers doesn’t think I’m that great. Maybe there could be a bit of a wake up call as to how bad an environment his workplace has obviously become, instead of firing her for calling him a “wanker”.

  • Jonny

    Yes I can understand why it would be stupid to rant like this girl has on her facebook page (if it’s not fake), but on the other hand

    Why is the ‘Boss’ so ticked off at the fact that, oh my gosh one my employers doesn’t think I’m that great. Maybe there could be a bit of a wake up call as to how bad an environment his workplace has obviously become, instead of firing her for calling him a “wanker”.

  • Cal

    Interesting how the freedom of speech is being silenced, huh? We all have moments (must we air them); however, I question a “boss” who feels the need to hunt down employees and essentially perform internet stalking. To the boos- just grow up already and learn how to be a better communicator- if you aren’t approachable, how can your employees thrive? And the the employee- learn some discretion- the days of “Big Brother Watching” are upon us, make yourself beyond reproach and kvetch with your friends over a beer, not the internet.

  • Cal

    Interesting how the freedom of speech is being silenced, huh? We all have moments (must we air them); however, I question a “boss” who feels the need to hunt down employees and essentially perform internet stalking. To the boos- just grow up already and learn how to be a better communicator- if you aren’t approachable, how can your employees thrive? And the the employee- learn some discretion- the days of “Big Brother Watching” are upon us, make yourself beyond reproach and kvetch with your friends over a beer, not the internet.

  • http://www.LOEL.com Eugene Lee

    I agree that employee privacy rights are declining. Technology is definitely part of the issue – it takes times for laws to catch up to technology.

  • http://www.LOEL.com Eugene Lee

    I agree that employee privacy rights are declining. Technology is definitely part of the issue – it takes times for laws to catch up to technology.

  • http://www.instant-background-check.com/default.asp Derek

    HAHA!

    OH man, that exterpt was awesome-
    I seriously don’t blame people for screening social networks for the kinds of people they are. But I think that the man who reacted to the article was a little unprofesional as well.

    I think screening to all extents is a great way to save time. Do a social network screen, a background check and any kind of check you can.

  • http://www.instant-background-check.com/default.asp Derek

    HAHA!

    OH man, that exterpt was awesome-
    I seriously don’t blame people for screening social networks for the kinds of people they are. But I think that the man who reacted to the article was a little unprofesional as well.

    I think screening to all extents is a great way to save time. Do a social network screen, a background check and any kind of check you can.

  • http://www.robertreeveslaw.com Los Angeles Lawyer

    Information is no longer secret unless you keep it 100% to yourself.

  • http://www.brownchiari.com Food Poisoning Attorneys

    Users Beware! Not a safe way to share private information, because it is no longer private!

  • http://www.paralegal-jobs.org Mark

    That is a lesson hard learned for that young lady.

  • http://jobspert.com/placement-papers/ John Papers

    This is amazing list like the previous one..
    Thank you for sharing this helpful information..
    John..

  • Toby

    I think it should be against the law for a company or bosses,upper managment to even look at your social network page.That time is your own your not clocked in at that time and it leads to the write to speach act.Which is protected by law.

  • http://www.newyorkcitypersonalinjurylawyersfirm.com NYC Personal Injury Lawyer

    Lol i like the picture you added here .There are two things which must be remembered by everyone. First is to make the right usage of using social networks and second about sharing profile only to those whom you trust. When specially in a professional world, wrong intended massages,status,or updates could cause some serious problems.

  • http://www.cyntron.com/human-resources/hr-support-center.html human resources los angeles

    hey i found this post interesting and informative as well both for employees and employers.. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • shele

    If I had an employer who requested my FB page I would delete it and create a new blank one and give it to him/her. If they want social networking for me I have a LinkedIn account for my professional social networking. My employer has no right to see photos of my family and friends and where they vacation or what they believe in, PERIOD!