The Writing on the (Facebook) Wall: The Use of Social Networking Sites in Hiring Decisions
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The popular media has reported an increase in the use of social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook by hiring managers and human resource professionals attempting to find more detailed information about job applicants. Within the peer-reviewed literature, cursory empirical evidence exists indicating that others’ judgments of characteristics or attributes of an individual based on information obtained from SNSs may be accurate. Although this predictor method provides a potentially promising source of applicant information on predictor constructs of interest, it is also fraught with potential limitations and legal challenges. The level of publicly available data obtainable by employers is highly unstandardized across applicants, as some applicants will choose not to use SNSs at all while those choosing to use SNSs customize the degree to which information they share is made public to those outside of their network. It is also unclear how decision makers are currently utilizing the available information. Potential discrimination may result through employer’s access to publicly available pictures, videos, biographical information, or other shared information that often allows easy identification of applicant membership to a protected class. For the practice to progress in a positive direction, evidence for the validity and job-relevance of information obtained from SNSs needs to be established. Organizational researchers and practitioners also need to promote awareness and attempt to create safeguards against the potential negative outcomes related to misuse of SNSs by employers.