What if an Interviewer Asks for Your Facebook Page?

in Academic Departments, Digital Technology Sector, Emerging Research, Faculty, Markets, Public Policy & Law, News
May 29th, 2012

SMG’s Kabrina Chang studies what is and isn’t legal in hiring

By Rich Barlow via BU Today

Kabrina ChangSome of her School of Management students told Kabrina Chang of being asked during a job interview to log on to their Facebook page, their prospective employers hoping to mine useful information in deciding whether to hire them. “I was horrified,” says Chang, a lawyer and assistant professor of business and employment law.

No one knows for sure how many companies do this, and Maryland is the only state that’s banned it, says Chang (CAS’92). Meanwhile, firms like Social Intelligence and Reppify compile reports about, or simple scores of, job seekers, based on the applicants’ information on social networks like Facebook and activities at online sites like Craigslist and eBay, she says, for sale to corporate clients. It’s similar to credit-reporting agencies providing financial background on applicants.

Chang thinks that gathering online information, within reasonable limits, is fine; after all, an employer who hires someone who’s littered the internet with pictures of himself posing with firearms could be liable if the new employee then goes on a rampage. And she cites one study in which 18 percent of responding employers said they’ve hired people with impressive online profiles. But, she argues, the companies that asked her students for their Facebook pages on the spot crossed what should be a legal line. Chang, who has done previous research on social media, presented a paper on the topic at SMG’s second annual faculty research day recently and discussed it with BU Today.

Click here to see Professor Chang’s Q&A.