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UMS Social Media in Hiring and Firing Decisions Discussion

UMS Social Media in Hiring and Firing Decisions Discussion


Question: Review the material throughout Chapter 24 of our text on hiring, firing, and other employment decisions, including Biblical worldview perspectives; then, consider the question in the Point/Counterpoint on p. 616 (E-book p. 288): Should employers be permitted to use social media in hiring and/or firing decisions? Include legal, social, and Biblical perspectives in your analysis.

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Each reply must include at least 1 verse from Scripture, quoted and applied as an integral part of the discussion of the applicable issues in the context of a Biblical worldview.

1.  As Kubasek, Browne, et. al. state, “use of social media often reveals personal information such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and more, all of which could lead to discrimination in the hiring and/or firing process” (2023 p. 616). Given that discrimination based on these factors is a direct violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a company could find themselves in legal trouble for firing and/or declining to hire based on these qualities, whether or not that discrimination is consciously done. This is just one of multiple reasons why it is not a good idea for companies to use social media when making hiring and/or firing decisions. Another reason is that it blurs the boundaries between employees’ professional and personal lives.  

    With social media being such a prevalent part of peoples’ lives today, employers have started using this as an evaluation in their hiring and firing processes. In fact, in hiring processes, “employers appear particularly interested in personal information even if users intend to keep this private, going as far as to force job seekers to let them access their Facebook passwords during interviews…employers justify [this]…as a form of “risk work,” (Robards & Graf 2022) with the information collected online used to mitigate risk of hiring someone who would disrupt the workplace, be a misfit to the company culture, or compromise the company’s image. With the cost of going through the hiring process being so high, in both time and money, it is understandable that companies want to try to mitigate these risk factors. However, it is also important for these companies to not mitigate these risks at the expense of crossing the line between employees (and potential employees) professional and personal lives. Current and potential employees are not oblivious to this surveillance though, and have found ways to respond to it in ways that allow them to keep their privacy while still having their employer or potential employer see a social media profile. Research shows that “this sense of “imagined surveillance” steers young people’s self-presentation practices on social media toward tactics including finely tuned privacy settings, deleting content, and maintaining multiple profiles for different imagined audiences” (Robards & Graf 2022). Employees awareness of this surveillance and the actions they are taking to ensure their privacy can, in many cases, make using social media surveillance a waste of time and resources for the company both in the hiring process and current employee screenings.

    In a study examining the influence of employers’ requesting that job applicants provide the login details of their personal social media accounts, it was found that “more than half (58 percent) of participants with work experience stated they would refuse such a request and thus not complete the application – a similar drop-out rate has been observed in previous research on applicant withdrawal” (Jeske and Shultz 2019 p. 74) With so many websites providing reviews on companies, including their hiring practices, the result of these requests has the potential to be a reduction in overall applicants moving forward, and thus prevent the company from achieving the necessary levels of productivity, which in turn will hurt their profitability. However, by following 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 which says “and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (English Standard Bible 2001), companies can stay out of their current and potential employees’ personal lives, and have a better reputation among those potential employees, thus increasing their chances of adequate staffing levels, productivity, and profitability.

Respond to this Post

Each reply must include at least 1 verse from Scripture, quoted and applied as an integral part of the discussion of the applicable issues in the context of a Biblical worldview.

2. The topic of this week’s discussion board is whether or not employers should be permitted to use social media during the hiring/ firing process. I believe that the complete answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Employers should absolutely use social media during the hiring process, but in cases of termination, I have mixed feelings. The fact of the matter is employers are already using social media for both ends of the employment spectrum.

In a world where we have the internet at our fingertips, we also have social media there too. The days of keeping up with the Joneses are still alive, but virtually. For example, we post about parties and get togethers, but we normally don’t post about having a tough day or when someone makes you mad. We tend to post the version of you that you want people to see. For recruiters it will be incredibly important to look through the facade and see who the person really is underneath and confirm if they would be a good fit for the company. Research tells us that “Forward-thinking companies are beginning to turn to social media in their searches. Social media activity already reveals a great deal of information about our deep character traits.” (Anonymous, 2021, p.98)

In fact, “according to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77% of its members surveyed in 2013 reported using social media for recruiting purposes”. (Alexander et al., 2019, p. 79) This overwhelming number shows how important it is to represent yourself in a positive light. Potential employees need to remember that when you post something online you wave your right to privacy and anything you post can and will be used against you.

As for using social media to fire someone, I find this proposition to be challenging. While companies do have the right to ensure their employees hold themselves accountable both at work and outside of working hours, they also shouldn’t be snooping around in employees’ personal lives. As I mentioned before, anything on social media is fair game, but just because you can see something doesn’t mean you should use it against someone. However, let me be clear, employers should act if they see troubling post. Examples include, posting about a vacation while taking a sick day, making threats, using illicit drugs, or other acts that go directly against the company’s morals and ethics.

When it comes to how scripture plays into this, I find the topic interesting. Its clear that the authors of the Bible would have no idea that something like the internet or social media would exist one day, but they do tell us how we should live our lives regardless of the technology involved. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NIV, 2023, Romans 12:1-2)

The idea of this verse is that regardless of what we do in our lives we should be doing it in the name of our Lord. If we take a vacation, it should be takin appropriately and we should thank God for the opportunity. We shouldn’t accept violence in our lives because that s accepting evil into our lives. Scripture is full of examples of how we should live our lives and we need to make sure we live up to those expectations.

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