Social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook have created a new ethical dilemma for many businesses. Corporations, small businesses, and even universities are struggling create policies to manage their employees social networking behaviors. Social networking access, particularly for recruiters, can provide personal information about potential employees, which would otherwise not be available. A business must follow statutes and guidelines when disclosing information to the public. Individuals on social networking sites have no such constraints. Employees can and do make comments about their employers online. Employers can and do watch what employees post online. Any individual can send or post potentially damaging information about another person and in seconds it can be accessed by thousands of other people. Businesses need to protect their reputation while respecting the rights of individual employees to post on social networking sites.
Consider the employer’s point of view. If a person represents himself as working for the company, and then makes a personal post on a highly controversial topic, this could potentially lose clients for the company and/or damage their public opinion rating. Alternatively, if this person frequently posts about non-work-time escapades of an illicit or immoral nature, his association with the company could damage the company’s good standing in the community. Worse, a post by an employee could actually get the company into legal problems by violating solicitation or advertising rules. An employer wants to minimize any damaging publicity, which could include posts by employees on social networking sites.
A single example of social networking use in business shows just how problematic social media can be. An individual’s social media profile can affect his or her job potential. Regardless of whether online profile information is on a resume, a recruiter can and probably will access a candidate’s online information. According to a recent Microsoft survey, seventy-five percent of US recruiters and HR professionals said their companies have formal policies that require hiring personnel to research applicants online (Hyatt, 2011). A teleologist would conclude that the recruiter is justified in using a social network profile in decision-making because the profile allows him to make a more informed decision about a potential job candidate. The profile gives insight into personal behaviors of a potential employee, which may not have been apparent during the interview (Ballenstadt, 2010). The end would be getting a model employee, which would justify the use of the social network profile, or the means of obtaining personal information about the potential employee that he did not disclose during the interview (Ferrell, 2011). A teleologist would not have an issue using a candidate’s personal profile information during the hiring process.
If a different recruiter were looking at the same...