Facebook can offer an incredible insight into someone’s life.
From photos of drunken nights out 10 years ago, to wedding snaps and pics of the dog wearing a Father Christmas outfit, it’s all there on a plate for the casual snooper – as long as the unsuspecting target hasn’t got the privacy dial turned high.
So it’s no wonder that Facebook has become the first port of call for employers once a potential new candidate has walked out of the interview room. Indeed, 43 per cent of recruiters say they check someone’s Facebook profile before hiring them – and 22 per cent have a quick look at Twitter as well, just to be sure.
Older research found that half of all employers have rejected a person because of their social media, be it drunken rants or racy photos.
But that might be about to change as an EU data protection working party has ruled that employers should require ‘legal grounds’ before the social media screening begins.
The Article 29 guidance is not legislation, but the recommendations will influence forthcoming changes to data protection laws due to come into force in May 2018. That is, presumably, until Britain leaves the EU.
The working party states that employers must ask for permission before trawling through social media – and only when it is ‘relevant to the performance of the job which is being applied for’.
LinkedIn, however, is considered fair game as it is intended as a platform for people to sell themselves to a potential employer.
While the working group’s intentions seem reasonable – should someone’s career really be hampered by a decade-old photo of a recklessly placed firework? – how it could ever be policed is a mystery.
How on earth is anyone going to know if Alexandro the salon owner has had a quick scoot around your Facebook profile before delivering the interview verdict?
There is, however, talk of steps being taken when it comes to larger companies, which may have to appoint a data protection officer to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. Fines of up to four per cent of global turnover are threatened for those which ignore it.
So for now, it might be worth checking over your social media when applying for a new job, but perhaps in a year’s time we will have clawed back a portion of our privacy.