Employee Use of Social Networks - student version (1)

Employee Use of Social Networks - student version (1) -...

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Legal and Ethical Issues Associated with Employee Use of Social Networks To Be Published in Advances in Business Research Journal By Gundars Kaupins Boise State University 313 Department of Management Boise, ID 83725 208-426-4014 gkaupins@boisetstate.edu and Susan Park Boise State University 313 Department of Management Boise, ID 83725 208-426-3070 spark@boisestate.edu 1
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Legal and Ethical Issues Associated with Employee Use of Social Networks Abstract Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter can help employees enhance a company’s marketing, recruiting, security, and safety. However, employees’ use of social networking sites and employers’ access of those sites can result in illegal and unethical behavior, such as discrimination and privacy invasions. Companies must gauge whether and how to rely upon employees’ use of personal social networking sites and how much freedom employees should have in using networks inside and outside of the companies. This research summarizes the latest legal and ethical issues associated with employee use of social networks and provides recommended corporate policies. INTRODUCTION Online social networks (OSNs) provide employees and job applicants with a powerful vehicle to communicate personal and company information. These Web-based services, which include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, YouTube, Yelp, and Flickr, and others, “allow individuals to (1) construct a public profile…., (2) articulate a list of other users…., and (3) view and traverse their list of connections” (Boyd and Ellison, 2007: 1). A broader definition of OSNs also could include Internet forums, blogs, online profiles, podcasts, e-mail, instant messaging, music-sharing, and voice over IP (Winter, Wyman Companies, 2009). OSN use has seen significant growth in recent years. In February, 2010, Facebook reported 400 million active users worldwide (Owyang, 2010). That number rose to approximately 500 million by August, 2010 (Facebook.com, 2010). As the number of Facebook and other OSN users continues to rise, so too will the amount of personal information employees and job applicants post. A quick Google search of “Facebook” and “employment” results in numerous examples of job applicants or current employees, particularly young ones, who have been denied or lost a job because of personal information posted on an OSN site such as Facebook or MySpace. Moreover, the number of employers who research applicants and 2
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employees on the Internet is also on the rise. A recent survey indicates that 75% of U.S. recruiters and human resource professionals research job applicants on the Internet, including social networking sites. A large majority of those surveyed have rejected applicants because of information they have discovered online (Rosen, 2010). Employers may encourage employees’ engagement with personal OSN sites to enhance
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Employee Use of Social Networks - student version (1) -...

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