Facebook is wreaking havoc in the workplace. Employees are getting fired — or never getting hired — thanks to Facebook posts. But I say keep the employees and fire Facebook instead.
Facebook is a brand-new phenomenon. The public hasn’t had time to master it yet, and the structure of Facebook itself is no help at all. As a result, people are posting things they later regret. As one HR attorney recently pointed out, reading an employee’s Facebook page is perfectly legal. At least here and now. The German government may pass an employee-protection law this year that, among other things, bans hiring managers from checking the Facebook profiles of prospective employees. If so, Germany may be the first country to illegalize the practice. But for the time being, it’s legal everywhere. But legal or not, is it ethical for employers to read the Facebook posts of employees? I’ve been thinking a lot about this question recently, and I surprised even myself by concluding that I believe the answer is no.