Forum: Social media checks for hiring purposes worrying

The logos of social media applications Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a handphone.
The logos of social media applications Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a handphone.PHOTO: ST FILE

I was shocked to learn from a job recruiter friend that he uses social media to screen job candidates at the request of clients, the employers.

This practice must stop as profiles created on social media like Twitter and Facebook could be for personal use only.

These are platforms where people express themselves freely. Many use social networking sites to connect with others and recruiters are using these sites as a source of background information on applicants to make decisions on hiring.

The information posted and shared on social media may not give a full picture of the character and professional standpoint of a candidate.

Recruiters should treat a job applicant with dignity and respect, and should seek a candidate's permission before they screen the applicant via his social media profile. Profiling of applicants over social media should be limited to networking sites like LinkedIn.

Job applicants, on the other hand, may want to consider cleaning up their online act. With cached sites and historical searches, one can't entirely undo past posts but one can still take a close look at publicly accessible information and make sure everything is in order should recruiters do a covert search on them.

Applicants should mind their privacy settings too. It is unethical to intrude on a person's profile that has been made private.

The Personal Data Protection Commission should have policies in place to govern when and how these online character checks should be done, and ensure that information is gathered in a socially responsible manner.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2019, with the headline 'Social media checks for hiring purposes worrying'. Print Edition | Subscribe