Social Net Working Sites are one of the fastest growing, yet one of the most controversial systems on the Internet. It is defined as a web-based interaction between users, who create a profile in public and a list of connected people. Currently, an increasing number of organisations are using SNSs in their Human Resource process and trying to save time and money (Brown and Vaughn, 2011). However, its usage has been arguable, whilst it has a potential to make a negative impacts by misuse. This essay aims to discuss the consequences of using SNSs in Human Resource and then to evaluate the ethical implications of this usage.
The use of SNSs in HR has been common for several years. According to SHRM (2008, cited in Davison et al., 2011), while only 21% of organisations use SNSs in 2006, 44% of them use it in 2008 because its advantages have been revealed for them. Brown and Vaughn (2011) provide three main characteristics of SNSs, that it enables employer to search information of candidates easily, that it supports the reliability of applicant’s resume, and that it provides information of applicant’s character and personality. It, however, causes unfavourable decisions for applicants. For example, one college student whose hiring process was going well, failed to get the job because the employers had viewed pictures of her binge drinking on her My Space page (Davison et al., 2011). Furthermore, when a worker in ABC Company wrote the complaints to his company on his Twitter account, he lost his job on the next day because his manager saw it (Davison et al., 2011).
There is one method to analyse the SNSs’ usage, which divides it into three aspects, Risk Associated with Misuse of SNSs by Employers, Establishing Validity and Legal Implications.
Employers possibly violate applicant’s privacy by misusing SNSs. Brown and Vaughn (2011) provide on example that the government of Bozeman, Montana required all applicants to hand in user names with passwords of all web sites including SNSs to search their background in June of 2009. Although it was immediately denied, this government violated privacy significantly. In addition, a female failed to get the job because of pictures on her SNS page of her asleep on bathroom floor. However, it might be jokingly created pictures with her friends or a result of a medical condition, although the employers did not require the explanation for these pictures and made final decision that could be based on misunderstanding (Davison et al., 2009, cited in Brown and Vaughn, 2011). Not only does Misusing SNSs invade privacy but also it might cause inappropriate final decision in Human Resource.
Next comes Establishing Validity, which suggests there is no valid evidence that supports appropriate usage. In the screening of Human Resource, employers do have no standard for choosing information from SNSs. User profiles represent personality, written communication skill and cognitive ability, although Grasz (2009, cited in Brown and Vaughn, 2011) insists that they have no explicit relation to the job. Gosling (2004, cited in Davison et al., 2011) suggests that personality revealed in SNSs is quite accurate, using a data from an experiments that search for the difference between self-rating and observer ratings of some elements of personality, although there are two criticisms suggested by Davison et al. (2011) that this experiment conducted under limited condition and that there is no practical experiment. On the other hand, Narisi (2009, cited in Davison et al., 2011) states that the information on SNSs is reliable because not only employers but also other colleagues and even previous colleagues view the pages, although Brown and Vaughn (2011) criticise that owners can choose favourable information and they do not have to put negative information, therefore it cannot be reliable. From these evidences, it is quite arguable that employers use information on SNSs pages.
The final point is Legal Implications, which examines to what extent information from SNSs are available for employers legally. SNSs that have clear and visual information possibly cause race, colour, and religion discrimination easily (Brown and Vaughn, 2011). Davison et al. (2011) state that even though civic rights are not violated in the HR process, an employer might violate privacy rights or defamation by third parties’ web posting could be caused because SNSs have great impacts on HR process. Indeed, minority backgrounds are likely to be blocked from employers, although usually all unfavorable information cannot be hidden that might cause discrimination (Davison et al., 2011). The organisations must be required to have a formalized policy for legal usage.
In conclusion, SNSs has grown up to a convenient tool for Human Resource and a number of institutions are starting to use it. However, the usage is arguable; it could violate privacy of users by an institution and it might cause misunderstanding between applicants and the institution, the information in SNSs pages cannot be always reliable, that is, the portraits of users on SNSs might be different from real image, and there are not enough criteria for using SNSs. For these reasons, using SNSs for HR has risks for now and it needs more researches.