Social Media and Work – Where do we draw the line?

Social Media Name CloudThis topic of Social Media and Work: Where is the Line? sparked a good discussion between a few of us the other day, and we thought we’d put our separate views in separate posts in order to keep them that way as we each seemed to advocate different views on the issue. I want to hear what your thoughts are and see more of the different variety of views that we have regarding this subject in order to better find the common truth in the matter.

Having studied business for a number of years (I have an associates in Business as well as a BS in Business Administration focusing on international management and human resources), I can understand the whole view of looking at the content that people put on the internet as a way to get a basic judge of a person’s character.  Hiring is a very subjective process, and many managers will say that they feel better about one candidate over another. There is no objective reasoning in this choice, only subjectivity.  I’ve seen this first hand through the multiple hiring cycles I’ve done in working life. Learning about Human Resources in school gives one the perspective as to why this is the case. A company is a living organism, and in order to keep it alive and growing, any new additions must fit and enhance the company.  Bad decisions are made and wrong people are hired.  Many other subjective means of choosing a candidate sadly are also used over the qualifications that certain decisions should be based.

Hiring Stick ManThere are certain positions in companies that I can see it near imperative to know what content had been and could be put in mediums where viral posts are common. Managers, police officers, other public figures, and etc. all fit into this category.  As a manager, I would want to feel a level of trust with the employees I may be hiring and apply policies to where social media involving the company is restricted.  I would be willing to show a hiring manager my Facebook account yet would prefer to give them a full tour, documenting why certain things are there and answering questions they may have.  Honestly, any smart person interviewing would rid their account of content that was offensive to a company, just like you would dress up for the interview and not show up in your pajamas, so I consider showing it a non issue. For my own security reasons (being also an Information Systems major) I wouldn’t want to log into a personal account on a computer they provided, but would offer to show them from my own computer or phone.  I would even friend a company hiring manager. Granted, in all of these cases, I would want them to present a consistent and valid argument as to why they deemed it necessary, but then I also understand that I am looking for a place I fit as much as the company is looking for someone who fits in their company and if they are doing it just to do it, then perhaps we won’t mesh very well.

Password KeyUnderstanding all of this, I deem the whole asking for a persons password to an account as an unethical practice. Companies are getting desperate to use the best medium of seeing a person’s character, or their Facebook account which most have set privacy settings restricting view from the outside, and are frankly taking it too far.  I have my Facebook privacy settings set to certain settings for a reason, so the vast public can’t see the majority of what I post (mainly pictures because they get used inappropriately). This being the case, I would have no problem showing an employer my Facebook and other social media accounts as I have nothing to hide. If they deemed that the content was not conducive to their corporate culture, then that’s their choice.  I do not, however, think that it is in any means appropriate to ask for a persons password to an account of a site that is not the corporations, no matter the reason.  I see it like asking for a persons car keys or house keys so that they can look inside. Would you give someone your keys and let them romp through your home or car without supervision?

What are your thoughts?  Should passwords be requested in any case by your work? What situations could you see it necessary?  Has this happened to you?

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4 thoughts on “Social Media and Work – Where do we draw the line?

  1. I agree with you, on my own PC, *maybe* but it would have to depend on company, position, pay, etc. Mostly though, I’d tell everyone no. I work for myself now so no chance of it happening for me anyways.

  2. I laughed when I read the first post about managers asking for Facebook and other passwords because it is so ridiculous!
    First of all it shows a huge lack of trust. Who would want to work for someone showing such lack of TRUST? If they want to know something they should ask, then trust the person’s response, and also trust their own intuition and feelings. Rather than going to such low means as looking at social profiles (which could be faked anyway) I believe that it would be far more beneficial for hiring managers to take the time and money to take courses that teach how to hire well, teach how to determine when someone is telling the truth, teach how to ask the right questions and avoid inappropriate questions, and teach anything else a hiring manager might need in order to be able to interview and find well, efficiently, and make the best choice without so much effort and time. Sure, even with all that knowledge and experience it can get a little tedious, but sometimes it takes work to find the best. There is nothing wrong with that. I believe that if the process is too tedious, cumbersome, etc. then it’s the hiring manager’s fault or the companies fault, and they need to learn to change themselves/ their process without infringing on the potential employer’s privacy.

    Second, think of all the information you have on Facebook that managers/hiring managers are not allowed to ask about, yet they would see it on your account (religion, etc., etc.). There is an endless amount of issues that could arise here. Wow, horrible stuff.

    I believe a better solution may be to use LinkedIn. There people can show their experience, and get recommendations from past employers and coworkers. Hiring managers can see that information, including the recommendations from others and get a pretty good idea of how that person is. Maybe hiring managers can ask potential employees if they would be willing to create a LinkedIn profile and send them a link. Some people may not have any experience yet because they haven’t had a job yet, but even just with creating a beginning account they can still show their skills, education, desires and passions, and some professionalism. Managers can get a pretty good idea of how a person is even from them creating a simple account with no previous work experience.

    However, I still stand with the point that managers need to trust others and trust themselves/their own intuition. With the right knowledge it can actually become quite easy for someone to determine who the best people are just with a simple conversation. Sometimes mistakes will still be made, but that’s how life is. Mistakes are a great thing to learn from. And if it’s necessary (and possible), then you can kindly “remove” from your business the person who isn’t performing well.

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