Privacy Issues For Employment Candidates Essay


Discuss about the Privacy Issues for Employment Candidates.



Technology has created the most convenient mode of virtual communication by presenting the social networking websites. Digital mode of communication has achieved huge response and attraction from individuals of several countries. Some of the most prominent Social Network Websites (SNWs) are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Google+ and Instagram (Aral et al. 4). However, with such digital networking, often it is found that users are getting exploited through privacy breach. While considering the corporate practices as well, it is found that employers are using online tools to recruit the most potential candidates. In 2011 survey, it has been found that Fifty-six percent of companies are using SNW to recruit candidates and more than Twenty-five percent of employers accessed personal details of applicants by going online (Weigel).

It has been evident that through accessing social media, employers are able to identify characteristics of applicants but on the other side the job applicants are facing privacy issues as their personal information is being interpreted by third parties. While accessing the candidate’s information, their privacy is at stake or in other words it can be said that employees are being regulated to socialize. This has created a serious concern among the candidates as their privacy is exposed just because of getting employed.

Discussion on Privacy Issues

Some employers use a candidate’s social media account as part of the application. According to Hensvik et al, in USA, accessing candidate’s social media profile is not illegal and therefore employers explicitly gain knowledge of the candidates’ personal information for directing their selection process (846). However, Milman et al. pointed out that even though employers access such information about candidates, still human judgment can never lead to a concrete decision about selection that can be considered as the perfect (451). Furthermore, Breaugh highlighted that business transformation through social media specifically in selection process is just supported by Fifty percent of the employers, while Seventy percent of employers indicate that acquiring information from Facebook and Twitter does not matter for accurate selection (401). For example, top multinational companies such as Microsoft and Google never try to access candidate’s social media account, whereas local Canadian companies often try to access candidate’s personal information so that they can be regulated.

Employers often feel that the personal life of individuals that are projected in social media indicates how candidates behave in their profession. According to Hazelton, screening information through social media does not always prove beneficial for the employers (55). This is because most of the individuals have a tendency to create a clear distinction between their personal and professional lives, however, either of which cannot stand as the best projection of employee’s characteristics. On the other hand, Slovensky et al. contradicted that employers are able to acquire the skills, likes, dislikes, personal attributes, social life and type of interaction that applicants follow in their day to day life (65). Such information about candidates creates a sense of judgment among the employers about the candidate’s suitability of employment and about the expected loyalty. However, finally while considering the view of Russell et al, it can be said that from the applicants’ perspective, accessing social media by third parties violates the privacy concerns, and it raises the ethical questions against farm’s performance (4).

Over the years, it has been found that individuals try to socialize digitally by expressing their feelings, which is often perceived differently by employers. Chung pointed out that social media is the platform through which individuals are able to express their thoughts, feelings, aggressiveness, passions and even the weirdest mode of their lives (105). Osatuyi added that individuals who feel like trapped in a mirror, find SNW as the only mode of expressing their thoughts (14). However, all such information does only create the image of impulsive character of an individual. Therefore, while considering the view of Wheatcroft, it can be said that employers are just able to acquire the instinctive image or characteristics of an individual, based on which candidates are selected (17). This ultimately creates a biased decision and selection process is never accurate. The candidates are losing their selection in prospective roles as they are being judged by their digital social life.

Some common examples such as profile customization, altering SNW settings, sharing login details are the ways by which job applicants are facing privacy issues. Considering certain examples from Aral et al, it can be said that many candidates are updating their SNW profiles in such a way that they can be attracted by employers (7). On the other hand, Osatuyi highlighted that at the time of interview sessions, employees are asked to alter their SNW privacy settings so that they can be monitored and evaluated (15). Often it is found that candidates are forced to change their privacy settings or they are simply rejected at the time of selection. This does not end here, often confirmed employees are asked to share their SNW login credentials so that employers can monitor their interactions. Also employers force associates to limit their interaction with particular society and communities so that the company’s secrets do not get shared to others. However, after evaluating all the above examples, it can be said that it is the employees or candidates, whose privacy is being exploited just for the sake employment. Laroche et al. pointed out that all such activities are considered as unethical but legal actions cannot be taken as employees are not physically or financially exploited (79). Privacy is completely vulnerable to risk by third parties, and candidates are forced to limit their daily interactions. The freedom of networking and communication, interaction and expression, grief and pleasure is either getting perceived or getting regulated by third parties, which indicates how candidate’s privacy is at stake.

Accessing social account information of candidates by employers indicates how ethically an organization is practicing its recruitment and selection process. According to Slovensky et al, acquiring personal information by employers for recruitment and selection process creates a sense of fairness issue, as accessing private information is unacceptable to society (59). How a farm uses information to make decision and provide explanation for those, raises the question of informational justice regarding the willingness and attitude of organization towards accepting farm’s job offer. On the other hand, Hensvik et al. argued that privacy issues are related to procedural justice, which creates relationship mediation between their willingness for online selection process and applicant’s concern about private information (856). However, Wheatcroft raised the fact that an organization is able to acquire knowledge of its employees’ communication habits and therefore falsified activities of the associates are noticed at any time (16). Also, by forcefully acquiring account credentials, the employers are able to regulate privacy settings of their employees, by which they are under extreme control by the management. Moreover, according to Russell et al, an organization is able to get the honest, accurate and truthful information about associates through SNW and even it stands as the most cost-effective way to gather personal information about candidates (3). On the other hand, if employees are concerned, then it can be said that their right of privacy is compromised, their right to decision, interaction and disclose information is under such an atmosphere that is filled with interference and coercion. Finally, it can be said that it is the job applicants who are facing extreme privacy concerns and their freedom of interface is hampered and their expression is restricted.

Shoulder surfing is the practice that extremely violates a candidate’s privacy and individuality. Chung pointed out that SNW information creates several ethical and legal issues, as often it is found that employers ask employees to add them as friend so that they can follow and invade them (105). On the other hand, Hazelton pointed out that employers are simply rejecting candidates who are refusing to share their Facebook credentials, and who does so is commonly known as shoulder surfing (56). What so ever many be the activity, it’s the employees or the candidates whose privacy is at stake. Slovensky et al. opined that it is the candidate’s sole intension and decision whether to be a part of the organization or not, but for that they must not share private information or employers must not force them to disclose their passwords (61). However, in this competitive world, candidates have the willingness to compromise and for that often they share login credentials just for the sake of employment as they do not want to lose the opportunity. There is no such concrete law that might revoke such proposal from employers, but is definitely a matter of ethics violation.


Considering the entire discussion, it has been understood that employers are trying to identify candidates’ characteristics by accessing their social networking accounts, which has affected individuals’ privacy. It can be said that accessing personal information of candidates through social networking websites seriously violates autonomy, individuality and a person’s sense of privacy. The organizations cannot expect to bring each employee’s social life under one umbrella, which would be guided by prescribed behavior and lifestyle. This would be quite ridiculous and outrageous expectation from managers. In the land of diversity, managers cannot expect to channelize varying ideas, backgrounds, believes and ideologies of individuals. While concentrating on privacy issues, companies may use SNW to screen out the most inappropriate candidates but at the same time none should be discriminated against sexual orientation, age, race, or because of social media preferences. It must also be said that at different point of time individuals compartmentalize their lives and therefore the character portrayed in SNW cannot determine their work ethic. Even employers must not prescribe the lifestyle and interaction pattern of employees by breaching their privacy settings through shoulder surfing.

Reference List

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Chung, Wingyan. "Social Media Analytics: Security and Privacy Issues." Journal of Information Privacy and Security, vol. 12, no. 3, (2016): 105-106.

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Russell, Reinier, and Mich?le Stutz. "Social Media: What Employers Need To Know." Journal of Internet Law 17.8 (2014): 3-6.

Slovensky, Ross, and William H. Ross. "Should Human Resource Managers use Social Media to Screen Job Applicants? Managerial and Legal Issues in the USA." Info : the Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media 14.1 (2012): 55-69.

Weigel, Margaret. "Social Media In The Workplace: Research Roundup - Journalist's Resource". Journalist's Resource. N.p., (2017). Web. 16 Mar. 2017

Wheatcroft, John. "Risks and Rewards in the World of Social Media: Firms – and Staff – must Tackle the Ultimate “double-Edged Sword”." Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 24, no. 5, (2016): 16-18.

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