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?