A survey carried out by CareerBuilder a few years ago found that 70% of hiring managers and human resources professionals said they had found information on social media that caused them not to hire the job applicants. But what qualifies as a valid reason? Les Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, said that investigating a job candidate’s social media accounts helps employers look inside the person’s head to see who the applicant really is. “But,” he added, “if you use social media profiles incorrectly, a world of privacy and discrimination problems could arise.”

What did Rosen mean? Is it ethical for recruiters and hiring managers to peruse a candidate’s social media profile during the hiring process as part of pre-employment background screening, or are recruiters taking candidate research too far and invading people’s privacy? Should employers go to background screening firms to conduct social media checks and assemble a report on the applicant’s online identity? Considering the unreliable nature of so much that is available online, what are the ethical risks of relying on such information in making hiring decisions?

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