Instigator / Pro

Companies Should Assess Social Media Profiles in the Hiring Process


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Contender / Con

Full Resolution: Companies Should Assess Social Media Profiles in the Hiring Process For Applicants

What does this mean? It means companies may ask to look at a person's LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter page and judge by their posts to see what kind of person they are outside of work.

Burden of proof is shared.

Framework is net balance considering the positive and negative effects to society, companies, and persons.

Social profile: "Social profiles are a description of individuals’ social characteristics that identify them on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, when using tools such as digg and Delicious as well as collaboration applications such as Jive, IBM Connections or Socialtext. Profiles describe any number of characteristics about individuals, such as interests, expertise, professional affiliations, status, recent activity and geographic location. Profiles are the digital DNA of a person, and where tagging of people-related content will occur. A social profile also displays information that helps to understand the type and strength of an individual’s relationships with others; for example, their level of participation and contribution in different initiatives, projects, communities, or conversations; their reputation among other participants, and so on. Creating a robust social profile allows individuals to be discovered by people who could benefit from an association with them. Companies are also beginning to experiment with social profiles as a means of reinforcing their organization’s brand identity." --

Round 1
I will avoid overly focusing on LinkedIn as it is only one of the listed Social Media and the easy straw to pick. Let's focus on the emerging patterns and reasoning behind the idea of Social Media Screening as a whole.

As Business News Daily informs, more than half of employers conduct social screenings to understand the candidate -- to know their online persona. This doesn't violate any privacy laws and highlights dangerous unprofessional acts a lot of times. More than 30% of the time, the candidate had posted information concerning discrimination, using drugs, or using provocative photographs. More than 20% had to do with bad-mouthing previous co-workers, having poor communication, lying about qualifications, or being linked to criminal behavior. As you can see, there is a substantial amount of detail obtained that would be otherwise difficult to obtain by going through someone's social media. Even if the company had not obtained the person's consent, anyone could view a person's public profile if they are not careful. I trust that this will teach persons to act more professionally online and build a trustworthy image. 

But let's go deeper than the common man. A more professional article from the University of Nicosia writes about the role of e-recruiting on social network sites. Firstly, they analyze that e-recruitment is far less costly than traditional appointments. The companies can now access the far larger potential applicant pool, mostly dependent on social media (which allows the profiles and connections to be made). JobVite, one of the top researchers on recruitment technology, suggests this social media is best for reduction of time and cost of hiring. The lack of geographical restrictions means this Social Media assessment will be quick and easy. You also encourage the candidates to be of a higher caliber, as they are likely computer literate. The basic online questionnaires can screen out persons, just as a glance over a person's profile would be able to. I admit that investments are required to make this work, and many feel uncomfortable about the privacy settings that social media often fail to achieve. Fortunately, in the status quo, companies rarely violate the privacy of data.  

Many opponents consider unconscious discrimination to also be an issue. It's crucial to negate this bias through training and strict requirements, as well as ensuring the social media standards are clear for potential candidates. Firstly, let me say that racism or sexism are not unique to Social Media Screening -- in fact, it may be beneficial for potentially vulnerable candidates to be negated in this process rather than within work. I say that the minorities or those likely to receive discrimination are unlikely to only receive poor reception from online processes. Therefore Con must prove that the bias is a unique problem created with the online process. Bear in mind that you will likely still have to go in person in traditional interviews, forcing some level of unconscious bias nevertheless. 

In a company, there is no doubt you will interact with many co-workers in terms of email communication and perhaps even social media talk. I believe it's important to establish the basis and get an expectation of what you're working with. When I post online while employed, it would be difficult to hide who I am. Companies would not want to be associated with someone who posts offensive information or highlights negativity. And in a feedback loop, even though we sacrifice a little bit of privacy, wouldn't this known practice encourage social media to be a little bit better? Less toxicity. Watching what you say. Keeping professionalism. When we exercise social screening as a standard, we create something encouragement to build a safe space. 

So, let's summarize in a few words. There is already a practice growing to accept social media screening. As these platforms grow more popular, it seems inevitable that companies can't be prevented from scanning over your public profile, if you're too ignorant to change a simple setting. With educated people and foretold conditions, Social Media screening creates ease of access. We would much better have a workforce to contribute to society and more opportunities for work, despite the potential discrimination. Finally, I argue that this practice would logically produce a self-watch force that forces people to think twice before insulting someone on social media. Con must show unique flaws and detriments created with the premise to win this debate.
SM(C)=Social Media (Checks)
EMe=(potential) Employee(s)

Pro’s argument relies on the following:

  • SM is an accurate depiction of a worker’s ability to be used by employers.
  • The concerns for privacy and mixing personal and work life are outweighed by the benefits.

These are not the case. 

SMCs can discover an EMe is a racist, but much more often, EMr’s look for things unrelated to one’s ability could cost an EMe an interview. Pro’s first source and this source says this can include:

  • Alcohol (38% of the time)
  • Curses (27%)
  • Poor grammar (27%)
  • Complaints about co-workers/job/boss (30%)
  • Controversial subjects (N/A)
  • No SM at all (57%)
  • A childish username (22%)
  • Posted too frequently (17%)

Photos of drinking alcohol, use of curse words, and a childish username are all things that have almost no value in giving an EMr relevant info. Saying “fuck” on SM doesn’t mean I’m less professional nor means I’ll swear at work. It’s absurd to say that any use of alcohol in one’s personal life indicates they’re less capable or less professional. Expanded in arg #1.

Complaints about work(ers) could indicate immaturity, but could equally as likely indicate a stressful environment that one is attempting to remedy and is using their personal way of connecting with their friends to vent and seek support. It’s not only impossible for an EMr to know, it’s none of their business.

It cannot then be said that SM is being used by EMr’s as a way to understand the ability of EMe’s, but rather, it is predominantly used to pick and choose EMe’s based on personal preference of irrelevant actions and information. The lack of benefit makes the resolution untenable when combined with the deficits it would bring as I will explain.

My arguments will be:

  • The resolution would cause a damaging mix of work and personal life.
  • The counterfactual protects the right to privacy.

Arg #1:

Pro’s first source says:

"Either you've specifically taken steps to make sure you can't be found or you're using a childish byname – neither of which feels very professional." 

The problem is that it’s not supposed to be professional; people aren’t professional when giving a personal depiction of themselves (which EMr’s look for 50% of the time). The resolution would remove a crucial outlet for people to express themselves because they’re never free to let their guard down. People must act as though an EMr is watching all they do, and it’s not the EMr that thinks to change their expectations, it’s the EMe who’s commanded to change their behaviour. It’s dumb to say a ‘childish’ username is unprofessional, and it’s dumber to say someone shouldn’t get a job because of it.

Discussing controversial topics is important and leads us to greater understanding. Don’t talk about religion at the dinner table, sure, but for EMr to discourage talking about it online at all is not only irresponsible, but since it’s a reflection of one’s personal self, as EMr’s admit, it encourages people to not have controversial opinions about anything. The problem here is self-evident.

We conduct ourselves differently in different environments, and for EMr’s to insist that we conduct ourselves in all environments as we do at work is abhorrent, even more so because it often has very little ability to tell how EMe’s will conduct themselves at work in the first place.

Arg #2:

EMr’s are not entitled to know everything about me nor anyone else. I don’t want them to go snooping through my personal SM to nitpick my personality and how I ‘fit company culture’ (which led to 31% of employees to give a job offer) not because I ‘have something to hide’, but because I don’t want people I don’t know to do that. If I have something to hide, it’s because I don’t want every embarrassing memory, every moment of weakness, every bad thing that I’ve grown from to be judged by EMr’s who mention drinking alcohol as a bigger factor in eliminating potential EMe’s than racism/sexism.

Legality does not equate to morality, and just because it doesn’t break privacy laws doesn’t mean it’s just. If a complete stranger completely looked through all of my SM and tried to learn who I was, they’d be unilaterally denounced as a creep and as a stalker. Why is it that EMr’s looking for and judging me based on, and I really want to stress this, often completely irrelevant information to one’s ability, professionalism, and personality are considered as anything different?


I've shown to you why the underlying assumption of pro's argument that SMCs are capable of giving a depiction of a worker's capability is untrue and shown why SMC have many pitfalls.

Pro’s first source sums it up nicely, portraying the resolution as what it is: a draconian idea that’s one step closer to authoritarianism. need to make sure that your account appears professional at all times, because you never know when they might be lurking!”

Round 2
Firstly, let me point out the implied assumption that con makes. Con assumes that the argument my first idea is trying to make is that the personal ideas posted online represent exactly who you are in real life. Of course this is not the point. The point is that this is who others *think* you are in real life, and that the implications of your personality can be quite relevant. Remember that the way you act online represents who you actually are. Many online life coaches and authors note that how you judge others online can be a reflection of your self worth. Therefore, there's something yet to see when you ensure someone hasn't made horrible insults or view points about others.

Let me explain further. In terms of work force, perception is reality. Let me remind you of my argument that if the company can easily find your profile, who's to say others couldn't? When you think about these messages being promoted by a company worker, the profanity, the alcohol, the use of drugs... and then you say, the manager of Google posted these things. Well, doesn't that sound utterly horrid? Google would surely go into a lawsuit about their employee being allowed to post offensive and inflammatory information. And Con completely ignores the idea of correlation. Don't let this dropped argument go to waste. Note that a company's prime purpose is to uphold professionalism, service, satisfaction of customers -- and perhaps people in general. The people are a representation of them, and the social media is a representation of the people -- regardless of what the persons are actually like. The influence of posts have enough power to create real influence, and I say even a mistake can be a problem. Think about it this way. If I was under influence of alcohol, I do not act like I usually do. Yet am I legally liable to be judged and condemned for my actions? Of course. So how is the internet different?

Indeed, Con's own source admits that "there are likely to be exceptions if they spot something that is overtly offensive or controversial. Particularly when it comes down to a handful of qualified candidates, hiring managers will tend to gravitate toward those that did not raise any red flags". There's the fact that the majority believed social media had at least *some* impact. This means that they are going to naturally tend to want to check on social media, one way or another. Secondly, Con seems to cherry pick, talking about how it seems "dumb" for a "childish" username, but without any details, I'm sure any poo poo jokes, 69 usernames or other inappropriate ideas seem even more dumb. You say it encourages people not to have any controversy at all, yet I see no clear stats about the Controversial subjects. I say that it's often inappropriate for work related employees to give passionate and dangerous opinions on sensitive subjects. A person who widely preaches about his God and forces his beliefs on others surely has no place in work. Or perhaps one pro-life advocate who repeatedly stresses the babies' "right to life", calling abortion murder. Con argues that there are double standards, but it seems to me that a simple solution of implementing a double standard would help greatly. Establishing a contract or charter of what is and what isn't acceptable for the work place would clear up misunderstandings greatly.

Thirdly, Con talks about how companies are not entitled for anything. She says she doesn't want every embarrassing memory and weakness, yet she forgets she holds all the power of what she posts. Facebook and Google both have strong privacy options that allow for you to only let friends and family see your posts. If companies request for your specific site, you can still decline, or tell them why you feel your life is too personal. Exceptions can be made. Con tries to land the coffin in the nail, about how social media can be completely irrelevant to who you are. Yet it's inescapable that you are primarily judged by your social media posts online. With a significant proportion of employees growing to use social media, I think your personal social media is a good basis to use to highlight what your work place standards will be like. Both casual sites like Facebook and serious sites like LinkedIn share a similar sense of collaboration and cooperation, especially with connecting to friends and workers. Even though I vouch for social media in general, Con must show a significant difference between professional and personal social media to win the debate. 


To summarize my point: SMCs should be used if it helps EMr’s make better hires or provides some other good to society, but they should not be used because they don’t do either and, alongside other deficits, in fact do the opposite. Pro can’t say SMCs show who EMr’s ‘think’ you are to refute this point, because, even if this is the case, the fact it doesn’t show who you are directly renders it unable to assist EMr’s.

A person’s personality is relevant, but all factors pro mentioned either doesn’t relate to personality and/or are incapable of showing personality in the way pro claims. The problem with faking qualifications, using hard drugs, exposing private info, etc… is inherent in the actions themselves, and thus, even if they have any ability, they have no need to tell EMr’s about personality. Factors like ‘using a childish username’ (which pro only talks about in regards to crude jokes, yet their own source would seem to refer to any username that isn’t your full name as it’s mentioned in regards to not being able to find you) don’t tell us anything about personality at all. 

Even if SMCs can tell us about personalities and even if personalities are incredibly relevant to an EMr, my point still stands that if the way SMCs are used don’t tell us accurately about an EMe’s personality, they do not fulfill the need to help EMr’s in that way. ‘Personality’ is mostly judged in regard to professionalism, and my point  stands that things as trivial as posting too often, using a ‘childish’ username, or drinking alcohol in any capacity, don’t accurately show an EMe would be less professional at work nor does refusing to give them a job off of this information help an EMr or society in any way.

SMCs come at the detriment of both the EMe and the EMr because they are, I repeat, used more often to reject someone who drinks than a racist. The reason that SMCs aren’t an accurate depiction of who a person is, or as pro would put it, who others ‘think’ you are, at least with regards to personality, and why that is a problem, is because the factors that EMr’s look for don’t tell us anything about a person’s personality. This is a continuous problem that appears in pro’s argument: claiming that we should have strict training or requirements to prevent potential discrimination, but never analyzing why we should expect that would happen/that is the case. Why would we ever expect EMr’s to implement this, no matter how obvious it is, when in the world where SMCs already happen, EMr’s haven’t and won’t?

To drink alcohol, to use profanity, to smoke weed. In the words of my opponent: “Doesn’t that sound utterly horrid, inflammatory, and offensive?” /sarcasm 

I have never once in my life found a person so harmed by the use of profanity or the use of alcohol by an EMe to the point that preventing said harm would serve a greater good to society than the harm done by a mini-version of outright policing of lawful behaviour undergone by legal adults under threat of not being able to get a job as the resolution prescribes.

“I say that it's often inappropriate for work related employees to give passionate and dangerous opinions on sensitive subjects” 

Read this quote again and tell me this isn’t something directly from the book 1984? Who defines what’s a ‘dangerous opinion’ or a ‘sensitive subject’? People serve a function in life beyond that of being an EMe. These discussions can be incredibly important and condemning them, again, under the threat of unemployment, does nothing but contribute to uneducation and the spread of misinformation. 

“A person who widely preaches about his God and forces his beliefs on others surely has no place in work. Or perhaps one pro-life advocate who repeatedly stresses the babies' "right to life", calling abortion murder."

If said EMe forces their beliefs, they don’t deserve a job, but 'discussion of controversial subjects' applies to mentioning you hold these beliefs at all. It applies to all stances on any controversial subjects. To bring up a “pro-life advocate stressing a babies right to life who calls abortion murder” as though it is such a damning example only furthers con’s position. I’m pro-choice, but we can hopefully all agree that a pro-life person doesn’t deserve to be held under threat of unemployment to never express their belief on their personal SM.

To pro, I ask this question: Why do you insist I should ‘use Google or Facebook's privacy settings’ when being unfindable on SM is the largest factor (57%) for an EMr immediately rejecting me? And if I can delete posts and remove every mistake I’ve made, what’s the point of doing the SMC to begin with? How can EMr’s find racists or people who ‘bad-mouth co-workers’ if the EMe in question just deletes every post regarding that?

Round 3
Con tries to argue that companies must know exactly who they are -- a true representation of yourself -- yet this is still an assumption on Con's part. She is implying that merely being seen in person is far more genuine. Yet we have seen countless liars able to fool people face-to-face. Under pressure and even under stress, the line of "True personality" is still blurred. Yes, Con may argue it's more difficult in real life than online, however, we can logically presume that most people on social media would be more relaxed and open to reveal private information about themselves. Con is saying that the traditional interview will reveal you're true ability to work professionally. Yet you can hide facts about alcohol abuse, the likeliness to say offensive things to others, so on and so forth. 

In a way, Con's privacy argument contradicts her representation argument. If we accept that the internet is a mask that hides, then it does not violate privacy since who you are online isn't who you are in real life. If we accept that the internet violates privacy because our inner lives are seen, then our true self is revealed and therefore we've accomplished our goals, however uncomfortable the means to accomplish. It's a lose-lose situation for her, especially since she has not shown any true unique benefits to the traditional interview. I've said it in round 1 and I'll say it again. If all other things are equal, we should pick Social Media judgment. It's far less costly -- both in terms of time and money -- and more efficient. With the clear benefit resolved from my research, Con must decide while struggling with her contradictory arguments.

Now then, let's continue. Con argues that the poor choices made on social media don't reflect professionalism for work, but fail to refute my logic made in round 2's final paragraph. If a person would recklessly bully and show a "horrible personality" to the public, then the fakery for work is horrid as they are unauthentic. It's not that "this is who the person is", but rather "this is whom the public thinks the person is". When we circle back to my round 1 comparison, Con tries to attack my specific examples without looking at the bigger picture. Indeed, what is dangerous or sensitive? It's possible to rally people together to encourage physical harm or exclusion of a race that the company vouches for. When people execute illegal or inappropriate activities in real life, their work-life is inexplicably linked to them. Con has time and time failed to answer why companies should accept their employees tarnishing their image. I agree that the censoring of controversial subjects can seem arbitrary. But Con has also not vouched for why speaking them is necessary in the first place. When it comes to looking for jobs, people should be avoiding posting on forums such as...  alcohol and drug use, anyways.

Con also suggests the extreme of deleting every embarrassing post for the job, but firstly, this may be exhausting depending on how many posts you made. Secondly, this perfectly accomplishes my goal in round 1 of making social media a better place to be in. I vouched for invisible police behind your back and making sure you don't post anything inappropriate. If job standards applied to Facebook posts, you'd see people be far more friendly with each other. Less discrimination all around. I'd take a safe space any day at the cost of some baby pictures and an embarrassing outfit unseen by friends. What Con is worried about here only highlights that my plan will greatly encourage people to stop violating others' comfort in social media posts. We lose some, we win some.

The problem of social media judgment isn't impossible to solve. I will admit that some information can seem irrelevant, but Con has repeatedly avoided my idea of a standardized way to judge people. She has never said, "it can't be done". Indeed, as a scholarly journal recommends and lays out on its abstract, there may be reliability and validity tests. There may be a transparent social media policy to resolve the privacy issue. While they value searching talents more than screening or selecting, my premise is ambiguous enough that this doesn't negatively impact my case. 

Conclusion: Social media is cost-efficient, quick, and a powerful tool for recruiters and employees alike. I have never recommended social media as the *sole* instrument to judge persons. Con seems to be forgetting my case isn't exclusive, it's inclusive. We add upon the social media judgment process to speed up the potential for an interview. Then perhaps we may move to person-on-person for a comprehensive analysis of persons. Con has failed to show enough detriments of the social media process, and I built a potential framework for more objective judgment. My burden of proof is filled. Thank you for the debate.

“If all other things are equal, we should pick Social Media judgment”

  • SMCs are sometimes done on the wrong person.

  • No SM gets you rejected 57% of the time. This unfairly punishes those who don’t show their personal SM to strangers or don’t have any.

  • SMCs discourage holding controversial opinions

  • SMCs don’t let EMe’s choose what info to give EMr’s and allows invasion of their private life.

  • SMCs discourage behaviours that often aren’t representative of ability/personality/professionalism. It’s not the business of an EMr to judge/discourage the legal, not immoral acts of mature adults. To imply that we all should be acting like an EMr is scrutinizing our every action and that we all should always act as though we are in a workplace is outright totalitarian and incredibly taxing on mental health.

My case from the beginning is: “If SMCs can do only as much as interviews in helping EMr’s/society, the resolution falls because of the intrinsic right to privacy, the personal nature of SM, and how invading personal space to make judgments on a person is harmful and pushes them to avoid/perform certain behaviours unjustly.”

I don’t argue interviews are always superior, only that they accomplish vaguely the same things roughly just as well but they lack the caveats in privacy, policing behaviour, and judging on certain actions or behaviours unfairly that would not have shown up in an interview (e.g. a childish username, drinking alcohol, posting too much [for heaven’s sake], etc…)

“I will admit that some information can seem irrelevant[Con] avoided my idea of a standardized way to judge people.”

Some information (posting too frequently, childish usernames) are irrelevant. Pro must concede this. Here’s a source (check bullet #2) directly contradicting pro, as there isn’t any standardized way to do a SMC.

“Con's privacy argument contradicts her representation argument. If we accept that the internet is a mask that hides, it doesn’t violate privacy since who you are online isn't you in real life. If we accept that the internet violates privacy because our inner lives are seen, then our true self is revealed and therefore we've accomplished our goals,”

Pro is incapable of seeing that privacy is more than just who you are, but what you’ve done and said. It’s a violation of privacy to see I have a pro-union stance and to deny me a job because of it, because my politics are none of an EMr’s concern (sans extremism) and it doesn’t say anything about who I am. If an EMr isn’t judging EMe’s based on objective info, they’re making (often incorrect) assumptions about an EMe’s personality from an EMe’s often completely unrelated behaviour. It’s naught more than guesswork that can’t help EMr’s. There is clearly no contradiction.

The case of an individual ‘recklessly bullying’ or advocating hatred falls beyond this resolution since those both constitute (or at least should constitute) criminal offences. The other examples pro gives for dangerous actions include: 

  • Voicing pro-life belief
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use (even recreational [e.g. Cannabis])
  • Profanity use

Sorry, but I don’t buy it. What  also don’t buy are these two quotes:

... [Con] failed to answer why companies should accept their employees tarnishing their image. I agree that the censoring of controversial subjects can seem arbitrary. But Con has also not vouched for why speaking them is necessary in the first place.”

Pro concedes that censoring controversial subjects would happen, but disagrees that speaking them is necessary. I don’t think it’s necessary to explain that even if they serve no function, censoring them is unjust and a violation of human rights. And yet, they do serve a function; conversations on politics, abortion, guns, etc… All serve to educate and create healthy discourse. To disallow this supports the spread of ignorance and misinformation.

... people should avoid posting  alcohol and drug use, anyways.”

Says who? What right does pro have to say that?

“Con also suggests the extreme of deleting every embarrassing postthis perfectly accomplishes my goal of making social media a better place. I vouched for invisible police making sure you don't post anything inappropriate.

(Blatantly Orwellian, isn’t it?)

If people were never mean to one another, maybe the world would be nicer, but again, what right does pro have to control, under threat of unemployment, how people conduct themselves?

None. They don’t have that right.

To conclude in the best way I know how:

“Con has time and time failed to answer why companies should accept their employees tarnishing their image.”

Why should I accept an employer tarnishing my privacy? Why am I the one that has to bear the burden when it’s SMCs that have been forced upon me? I not only reject, but unilaterally denounce any world where I am judged by nothing but my worst moments with no chance to defend myself, and that is where pro will never be able to reconcile with con.

So proud to oppose. Thank you for your time.