Should employers be allowed to assess current and/or prospective employees based on their social media sites? Why or why not? Describe at least three different examples of how a current employee’s social media use could jeopardize their job and professionalism in the workplace.
The video raises the ethical question of employers accessing social media websites in order to assess a prospective employee. The young man from the Ohio State University stands as an example of someone in this applicant situation. The questions of course relate to the freedom and autonomy of the individual in their life, living as they like versus abiding by certain standards that the employer might hold. However, this provides a contrast between character in life and character in work.

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I have focused on character, because I think that is at the core of employment analysis and our identity online. Van Dijck (2013) suggests that identity is the central issues for social media sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn. We do not just join these web communities in order to socialize or promote a career. Rather, he argues, we join these because of our identity. Some wish to construct an alternative identity; others want to promote their current status or elevate it; and all of us want to be know. These capture different methods of “performing the self.”

Yet these selves relate directly to how an employer perceives us. This might jeopardize a job or professionalism in three ways. First, photos of a young man or woman drinking excessively and partying might communicate a recklessness or lack of responsibility. This in turn could keep an employer from trusting the young person. Second, a current employee might be online friends with employees from a competing company. This could create problems and confidential issues, such as breaching trust or releasing private information. Finally, social media sites offer a place for many people to vent emotionally. This could tempt an employee to bad mouth their employer or other coworkers.

  • Van Dijck, J. (2013). You have one identity: Performing the self on facebook and linkedin. Media, Culture & Society, 35 (2), 199-215. Retrieved from SAGE database.
  • “Dangers of Social Media in the Workplace.” April 4, 2010. Retrieved from