First, what is social medial marketing? Essentially, social media is a blend of social outreach and internet technology, achieved principally through blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Linkedin. While these Internet tools allow people to connect to other people of all age groups, they have also become the new “feeding ground” for employers seeking to learn more about a potential employee than they can discover through a resume. In fact, according to employeescreenIQ, 56% of what is written on a resume is padded. (Company Unveils List of 2009 Background Screening Checks)
In 2006, CareerBuilder.com reported results of a survey that they conducted of over 1,000 hiring managers. Results indicated that 12% of these managers used social media websites to verify information about a job candidate, with 63% not hiring a candidate based upon the information that they found. (Background Check News)
Today, as quoted from one blog, almost 40% of employers have used Facebook and other social media sites to obtain information about job candidates, and greater than 80% of employers found negative information about the potential employee that may have lead to the candidate not being extended a job offer. (Employment Background Checks)
Clearly, taking control of one’s public persona is critical for anyone in the job market. However, employers could also subject themselves to litigation for negligent hiring practices through the use of social media when making employment decisions. So, far, no one has made this challenge but expect this to come.
Social media marketing is not only being used by prospective employers but a new crime is on the rise – social media identity theft. St. Louis Cardinals MLB team manager Tony La Russa was a recent victim. An identify thief created a Twitter account using Tony’s name and image, posting defamatory remarks on the account. La Russa sued Twitter and the case is currently pending in court. La Russa wasn’t alone; impersonators hacked into President Obama’s Twitter account, as well as the Twitter accounts of Britney Spears and Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. (Twitter, Social Media Indentity Theft & Personal Background Checks)
Prosecutors are also using social media to their advantage. A 22-year old woman charged with a fatal DUI, faced a 5 year sentence after photos of her on her MySpace page after the accident depicted her with tequila, shot glasses and a T-shirt labeled, “Jail Bird?” came up at trial despite the warnings of her defense attorney. (Unrepentant on Facebook? Expect jail time) And, a YouTube video was elevated to fame in 2008 when Ms. Trisha Walsh Smith made a video about her acrimonious divorce from Phillip Smith, a Broadway giant. Smith complained about her prenuptial agreement and made disparaging remarks about her then current husband. The New York County judge granted the husband a divorce on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. (Inside the YouTube Divorce)
If these stories don’t cause you to rethink what you may have posted on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, maybe they should give you pause for thought. Depending upon what you have posted, you could lose a job opportunity or worse. Count on LegalMatch to continue to monitor these trends; we expect more litigation to revolve around the use of social media. But, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Be careful what you write!