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Discriminatory to use social media as a test for hiring


Dear Editor, 

Many of us think that if our resume looks good we will get an interview, and if the interview goes well we will get hired, but that’s not always the case. 

Discrimination often rears its ugly head in the hiring process. We have all heard stories about someone not getting hired for reasons of age, race or religious beliefs but a new kind of discrimination is beginning to run rampant in the business world and it’s all centered around social media.  

Social media is becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. Facebook has over one and a half billion users, there are 500 million tweets per day and 2.5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every hour. 

Many people use social media as a way to keep in touch with old friends, a place to get their news, share ideas and share our interests with others. 

Social Media is also used by public figures and corporations as a way to promote themselves. If social media is so widely used, how can it contribute to discrimination? Employers are using it increasingly to turn people down for jobs.  

Employers can use the information they find on a person’s social media account to discriminate in many ways. Based on what the person has on their social media account the employer can find out the ethnic background, sexual preference and race. Employers use this information to discriminate against hiring potential candidates.  

The biggest form of discrimination by employers searching people on social media has to do with the person’s lifestyles. Many of us have that one picture on our Facebook account that isn’t as flattering as the rest. Perhaps you are at a bar, or you’re holding a cigarette, or you are in the act of something that isn’t very flattering. These pictures that were taken in the heat of the moment could cost you a job opportunity.  

Background information on possible employees is important for a company to obtain. Companies can do this by asking for a criminal records check or doing a background check themselves. 

Most people put on their resume a list of references or references available upon request. The reason these references are there is to show that there are people who know the applicant on a professional level and will vouch for the applicant; that that they are capable of showing up to work on time and holding the skills needed to work for the company in question. This should be enough for companies to go on. They should be able to tell from the criminal record and reference check if the candidate is suitable for the position.     

The debate will continue on whether it is ethical to hire or deny someone a position based on how they are portrayed on social media. 

I myself shut down my Twitter and Facebook accounts when I started looking for a job. It’s not that I thought what I had posted made me look like a less than reputable person, but I did think there was a chance that someone may look at a photo from my past and think I was not mature enough to work for their company. 

I have convinced myself that any employer will focus on the negative rather than the positive. Just because I enjoy a beer on the weekend does not mean I am going to show up drunk to work or hungover all the time. Employers should gather an opinion of a person based on their references, resume, cover letter and an interview. 

Jesse Duggan, Melrose

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