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Europe Says Employers Must Warn Job Applicants Before Checking Them Out on Social Media (cnn.com) 221

Europe has a message for employers: Think twice before you check the social media profiles of job applicants. From a report: European officials have issued new guidelines that warn bosses about the legal hazards of scrolling through the social media profiles of potential hires. The rules require employers to issue a disclaimer before they check applicants' online accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. If applicants don't see the warning, the company could be in breach of European Union data protection rules. Employers are also barred from compiling social media data as part of the hiring process unless it is "necessary and relevant" for a particular job. The guidelines are part of a lengthy document clarifying data protection laws that apply to employers across 28 EU countries.
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Europe Says Employers Must Warn Job Applicants Before Checking Them Out on Social Media

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  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @11:16AM (#54801145)

    Understand that there is a HUGE difference about how people in the EU and in the US think about privacy.
    In the US if it isn't public, it is private. In the EU if it isn't private, it is public.

    Also in the EU the general idea is that the laws should be there for the people in the first place. And they are used to even the playing field between the heavyweight companies and the lightweight individuals.

    This is so much difference that the standard answer from an American will be "This is stupid, because companies." while a European will most likely say "This is great, because companies"

    Again: the idea of what privacy means is different between the two. You can see this with e,g, Net Neutrality.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Understand that there is a HUGE difference about how people in the EU and in the US think about privacy.
      In the US if it isn't public, it is private. In the EU if it isn't private, it is public.

      Not really, trying to put this nicely, but you don't understand much about Europeans.

      In Europe (and most developed countries) there are clear definitions of public and private. Public is usually a government provided thing. We tend to have stricter definitions of private, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al. are private even though you don't need to go to great lengths to access the information. We tend to count whether you want the data to be private, not whether privacy is enforced.

      Now this law, you need to r

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is one thing that Europe gets right. Americans are so brainwashed into thinking they're all temporarily displaced billionaires that they just have this instinctive negative reaction to ideas and laws that might actually protect them. It's sickening really, considering that the time of best prosperity in this country was one of heavy marginal taxation on upper incomes (no, a 90% tax rate does NOT mean you give 90% of your money to the government), strong worker protections, strong unionization, a gove

  • For job applications in CA, there's a checkbox to receive a copy of the background check and/or credit reports that the employer requests. In 20+ years of working in IT, no private sector company has ever requested a background check and/or credit reports. Only my government IT job requested background check AND credit reports (all three bureaus). I expect social media to be more of the same.
    • I've worked in four states and have always had that option when asking for a background check. I work in high-security areas, so all my jobs have done a check (all states I've lived in and federal). I've always received a copy.

    • My employer definitely does the background check and it better match what you put down in the discloser. They do the full FBI-involved national background check not just the local police wrap sheet.

      Its known thieves they are looking for. They also disqualify anyone that isnt truthful about what the background check will find.
  • And just how the heck do they expect to enforce this? I mean, short of the employer directly *asking* the employee if they have a such-and-such social media account, how would anyone other than the person who did the search know about it?
    • You check standard hiring practice. You can't catch one HR bending the rules, but you can punish companies with written policies that are clearly illegal. If the rule breaking is only ttaught in seminars, often somebody tapes it to protect themselves, and if they ever have issues with the company leaks it.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @11:19AM (#54801161)

    I'm sure businesses will still look, but the rule means they'll have to find some other reason to not give people the job, offer a promotion, or fire them.

    What surprises me is that there's ample evidence out there that companies search people's social network profiles -- some do it casually and others do it as a formal part of the HR process. Why hasn't it sunk in with average job seekers that oversharing on their public profiles is a bad idea? I've noticed that LinkedIn posts, comments, etc. are getting more controversial since they redesigned the site as a Facebook clone. Why would anyone risk taking themselves out of the running for a job by posting an opinion on something that their potential future employer doesn't like?

    The truth is that your social media profiles, if they exist, have to be as boring as possible if you want to be the ultimate drop-in replacement employee these days. HR departments have hundreds of applicants for each job and every reason in the book to narrow the pool. If you post a million pictures of your kids, you might not be perceived as a workaholic team player. If you post rowdy drunk pictures, you might be perceived as a walking latent lawsuit. Political and religious opinions are huge red flags because you never know who you're going to upset. Your public social media profiles need to be totally clean, but they do need to exist -- because then you might be perceived as a hermit. :-)

    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      Or maybe companies should stop acting like stalkers and that they own you and should have control over your personal life? Yeah, I know, that's just crazy. How dare employees expect to have a life outside the purview of their employer.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      "they'll have to find some other reason to not give people the job"

      And that reason would be that they picked somebody else. Done.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      There is a great incentive not to look at employees' social media profiles because if discovered (browser history, social media companies reporting it to users etc) it could be extremely bad for them.

  • There is a two page employment contract in 6pt font.... initial here, here, here... and here.... now sign here.

    Oh, you don't want to do that? Fine, good luck with your employment search.

  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @11:50AM (#54801445)

    'The rules require employers to issue a disclaimer before they check applicants' online accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. If applicants don't see the warning, the company could be in breach of European Union data protection rules'.

    That doesn't really change anything. The would-be employee is then in the position of a man in a secure cell awaiting execution in the morning. He knows what's going to happen, but he can't change it. If you could change your social media postings in retrospect, that might make some difference - but of course you can't.

    'Employers are also barred from compiling social media data as part of the hiring process unless it is "necessary and relevant" for a particular job'.

    As determined by the employer, of course. I have enough experience with corporations - big and small - to understand that this kind of clause is nothing more than window dressing. It makes things look better, but changes nothing in practice.

    The key issue is not about reading a person's online profile - anyone can do that. It's about forming judgments about someone's suitability for employment based on the profile.

    It seems to me that the US and European views of the matter differ very markedly. Americans, as far as I can gather, tend to think that the employer should have full discretion to hire and fire at will. Europeans, rightly or wrongly, look for some kind of standards of fairness. You shouldn't be turned down for employment because someone disliked the way you look, or speak, or the colour of your skin or your religion. Or because you wrote something online that the employer found annoying.

    It all depends on whether you believe people should have a right to employment on decent terms. If not, all this legislation should be repealed.

  • ... to live than pretty much anywhere else, certainly including the United States. The US is in a breakneck race to the bottom, essentially becoming a prison state. If you're a poor immigrant, you'll get kicked out, but if you have any assets at all, you have to surrender them at the border if you want to emigrate. Surveillance is pervasive, justice is for sale, and corporations basically write and pass their own legislation (don't think for a moment that TPP won't be revived the second Trump leaves offi
    • European nations have their faults as well, so I'd dial that back a bit. That said, it seems pretty clear the the US is currently in decline (and that decline is accelerating), and many European nations are advancing.

  • FTA: "The rules require employers to issue a disclaimer before they check applicants' online accounts"

    So part of the application process will be a statement that "by submitting your application you agree that the company may view your public account on social media sites."

    Why is this a big deal? I always do light research candidates online, it's a way of validating what is on their resume. I've even had co-workers with spouses/friends who work at the places where the candidates are, and I've gotten feedb

  • Anyone else find it amusing on Facebook that anyone dumb enough to be a trashy, partying, alcoholic piece of crap or raging racist or SJW crazy person also tend to not have the foresight to set their default post privacy to "friends only" instead of public.
    By the way, this is incredibly dumb. It's out in public on the public internet. You don't need to warn them that you're viewing public info.
  • I went to the CNN page, but they didn't give us a source on this either. Anyone have a link to the source on this?

  • Don't use social media, or at the very least, don't use social media in a way that can be connected to you. It works for me.

  • Without context and in isolation this will probably sound weird for most people, but what it really represents is that employers should judge job applicants only on stuff that applicants are aware of and in control.
    It's a single thing that composes a set of laws on fair and equal opportunity for employment... which will probably get into a far more comprehensive set of discussions, but just so people know.

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