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Social Networking, Management Responsibilities, and Employee Rights: The Evolving Role of Social Networking in Employment Decisions

Abstract

In the past decade, social networking sites (SNSs) have transformed the way people socialize. They allow individuals to connect globally and instantaneously. These connections, however, generate user profiles that provide an abundance of personal and behavioral information that can be used as a management tool in the selection process and as a way to monitor potentially detrimental employee activities. Employers can, with relative ease and low cost, access information that would not have been otherwise available. Because employees use and view SNSs in markedly different ways than employers view and use them, these conflicting perspectives and different interests pose serious issues as SNSs continue to grow. Regulations typically lag technology, and research regarding SNSs is limited. Thus, while there is clear potential for using SNSs as human resource tools, there are few legal guidelines controlling their use, little knowledge of their effectiveness, considerable disagreement over privacy and ethical issues, and some potential for abuse. Consequently, proponents and opponents continue to debate the legal, ethical, and practical issues of using SNSs in both staffing and employee monitoring processes. This paper examines these issues and provides guidelines on how managers should use SNSs in managerial decision making.

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Correspondence to Steven L. Thomas.

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Thomas, S.L., Rothschild, P.C. & Donegan, C. Social Networking, Management Responsibilities, and Employee Rights: The Evolving Role of Social Networking in Employment Decisions. Employ Respons Rights J 27, 307–323 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10672-014-9250-5

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Keywords

  • Social networking
  • Reference checking
  • Employee selection
  • Employee privacy
  • Electronic monitoring