The whole point of social media was freedom of expression and the liberty for an individual to maintain their digital personality, as they like. However, employers pressurising their staff into providing their Facebook passwords speak of a lack of trust within their own team.
If the purpose is to just vet applicants, there are many other ways of finding out about a particular candidate. Most profiles have limited access on Facebook, and one could research about a candidate's background on Linkedin and Twitter too. This sets an incredibly imbalanced sense of trust between employers and their staff.
Every person has the right to maintain a different life professionally and personally. Employers cannot judge a candidates performance based on this.
Facebook states to its users that in any circumstance they should not be liable to disclose their password to their employers. It has drafted a ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities' to put in place the regulation on sharing or soliciting a Facebook password. However, the legality of this issue still lies in a grey area.While it is vital to do a background check on a candidate, similarly it is also important to respect their privacy. However, as social networks are increasingly intertwined with our real lives, it is important for potential candidates to maintain a professional digital personality by updating privacy controls on their social media accounts.
Companies have become addicted to Facebook as filters in the hiring process. However, there are so many other ways to assess a prospective employee from his or her online leavings.
Companies should start with Linkedin. This site states which person has endorsed a potential candidate, the manner in which the endorsements are written, the kind of groups the candidates belong to and how active they are online.
Twitter talks a lot about a candidate's personality. Twitter feeds give an understanding about the candidate's personality, interests and creativity.
Today, a person's digital reputation counts. Employees must take extra care to maintain their social media profiles when looking for a job. Privacy controls keep changing and one should make sure they keep checking and updating their controls from time to time.
Privacy laws need to be updated to deal with modern technology. Lawmakers are certainly trying to act fast to protect candidates from such situations.
Employers are trying to protect their online reputation as employee's state they are working in a particular organisation. Companies should draft social media policies and educate their staff as to what information they are comfortable sharing online, and what limitations employees have in sharing company information.
Universities also need to create awareness amongst fresh graduates about how important it is to maintain their social media profile, with the increasing trend of employers doing a background check on the online ecosystem.
We have not experienced many of these instances in UAE. However, the trend of a background check online, is pretty much global.
Traditional reference checks are still prevailing in this region, but all potential candidates must be educated about controlling their online privacy settings and consciously maintain their digital reputation.