Social Media: A Legitimate Pre-employment Vetting Tool?

There is currently no legislation in the UK that prohibits employers from considering information contained on applicant’s social networking profiles when making a recruitment decision. However this does not mean that employers can conduct searches on social media sites when recruiting without fear of consequences. The danger for employers is that if a decision is subsequently taken not to appoint a candidate in circumstances which included a review of their Facebook (or other social media) page, then this could potentially give rise to allegations of discrimination. Vetting of job applicants via social media also involves processing personal data (when the employer either uses or records the information obtained), so employers must ensure that any vetting is compliant with the Data Protection Act. The ICO’s guidance states: vetting should be used to confirm specific points rather than for general intelligence gathering; information should only be sought from sources where it is likely that relevant information will be revealed; and employers must avoid placing reliance on potentially unreliable sources.

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