Monday, March 15, 2010

More Reasons to Take Down that Facebook Page

FacebookMitch Rubenstein at Adjunct Law Prof Blog has an interesting post about a study concerning online reputation and job consequences that Dan Solove at Concurring Opinions elaborates on. Mitch asks about employment discrimination while Dan focuses on privacy and process implications.

The study, done by Microsoft, surveys consumers, HR managers, and recruiters in the US, UK, Germany, and France, and finds that while fewer than 15% of people think that their online information will matter in getting hired, 70% of employers in the US (much bigger than the other countries) rejected employees because of information found out about them online. And nearly all US employers surveyed thought it appropriate to base decisions on information found online. See Dan's post for some great graphics and the study for more info.


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I think it is great idea to get to know the truth about employee's and candidates.

Posted by: pd cooling | Mar 15, 2010 1:53:28 PM

Not having read the study, maybe I'm wrong here, but I don't see any inconsistency between 70% of employers sometimes refusing a job offer because of what appears on Facebook and 15% of FB users thinking that THEIR on-line information might matter in getting hired.

I assume any employer who ever turned down and applicant because of what was posted would answer yes. And I assume that any FB user who has self-censored his or her profile will think that their on-line information won't get in the way of employment.

There may be a disconnect between employer and employee perceptions, but, at least as reported here, these two numbers don't show it.

Posted by: Charlie Sullivan | Mar 16, 2010 12:34:58 PM

You're right Charlie that the numbers by themselves may not fully prove a disconnect because the numbers describe different things. But I still think they show something important. It depends in part on whether that 15% represents the only people actually thinking about what they post or what others post about them--a failure to think about those things runs rampant through the cautionary tales that make the news. It also depends on what those 15% believe "their" information is. We tend to assume that people can control online information about themselves, or information that appears to be about them, but I don't think that's the case. I'm sure the other Marcia McCormicks (especially the surprisingly large number of whom are lawyers or professors) in the country groan every time my name pops up online associated with something they find appalling, just as I groan every time Maureen McCormick (formerly Marcia Brady) does something scandalous. And finally, maybe it depends on why the 85% think their online information won't matter--because they don't think employers look at it, because they don't think it's that bad, or because they can't believe that an employer would think it was that bad. And maybe the disconnect is in all of those places.

Posted by: Marcia | Mar 16, 2010 3:04:49 PM

It's hard to disagree that there's a lot of disconnecting going on on FB -- much of what makes the site go would disappear if posters considered the downstream consequences!

Still, if someone's going to do a study, why don't they study the kinds of issues you address? For example, what percent of FB users think that employers rarely/never check applicants or employees out on line? What percent self-censor, either in what they post or in their privacy settings?

Posted by: Charlie Sullivan | Mar 17, 2010 4:15:52 AM

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