Social Media and the New Ethics

Attended IABC’s Pacific Plains Exchange Conference yesterday in Minneapolis.  A general session on social media brought together four experts who each had a slightly different slant on the use of social media tools in today’s business environment.  One panelist focused on its use for internal corporate comms, but also how corporations scope out job applicants online now before deciding on an offer.  One anecdote presented was about an individual who was very highly qualified for an open position, but was denied an offer because he had a Facebook page that extolled his beer pong championships several years running, and had photos of himself passed out after a couple of matches. Yes, this is generally frat boy kind of behavior, and this individual was proported to be 30 years old. Privacy has always been important to me, and I personally wouldn’t post something like this online, but clearly it was within his comfort zone and really didn’t have anything to do with his work life.  But it cost him a job.  He’ll probably never know that.  I’m interested in others’ opinions – does this seem ethical?  Are employers justified in this kind of ‘character selection’ when choosing whom to hire?  What might they see as their exposure here?  I’ve also heard credit scores are sometimes run on potential hires – well, maybe a score is low because someone needs a job or had a serious illness in the family.  What about the church you attend? Or your political party?  Should workers be judged by that?  What have we introduced here?  Before social media, this kind of detailed vetting of individuals really wasn’t possible.  This genie isn’t going back in the bottle, but where might it end up?  Would love others’ thoughts…

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