Should organisations spy on their employees via social media?

Quick answer should be “no”!

A common question in job interviews often is ‘what would your friends say about you’? Modesty doesn’t come easy, but we try to answer it with as much of a poker face as we can. It seems that some organisations are stretching the ‘reading between the lines’ to a new dimension and going as far as spying on their prospective employees’ online networks to find out what their friends ‘actually’ think about them.

You going bottom’s-up after a tiring week or hopping around the beach in next to nothing or having opinions on some taboo topics can reveal a lot about who you are. But, is that a true reflection of you can be at work?

The conversations we have in our living room as opposed to a bar can be quite different, and so can we. Of course, there is some extreme behaviour that can’t be tolerated (again, remembering the Domino’s pizza incident here). But what is to prove that anyone who likes to have a little bit of fun in their personal lives will most definitely be a threat to the organisation’s reputation?

Having guidelines around the use of social media at work and in the capacity of a representative of the organisation is one thing, but strip-checking someone’s social (and so called private life) another. In my view (and hope you agree with me so far), it is extremely unethical.

I say so-called because that’s the catch here. What we all need to come to grips with is that once we put our personal life on the pedestal of social media, it is not so private anymore.  The Facebooks and Twitters of the world are far more clever than we give them due. Changing the location and format of privacy settings in the name of upgrades is one of the many things they do to keep us all guessing. On top of that, strengthening their monopoly by buying-out competition adds more woes in the plea for privacy.

But, this blame game won’t get us anywhere. We lock our houses and insure its contents for safety, so why be so careless with our reputation? I know it’s annoying to tag yourself out of all the 100 photos an annoying friend uploads after the last party, but at most times precaution is better than cure.

It works both ways, just like being social does. You need to give respect to earn it, be it with people or their privacy. What do you think?

Related:

Legislators: Employers Shouldn’t Ask for Your Social Media Passwords

What’s at Stake When Employers Ask for Social Media Passwords? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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