Posts Tagged: ethics

Blurred Lines in Social Hiring Practices

This week a brief Twitter debate about hiring practices sparked the idea for this post. One of the concepts I teach the companies I work with is the concept of the social company, and the ethics that go into becoming a truly social company. When you can use social media to find out anything about anyone, where do you draw the line?

One of my Twitter connections wanted to spark a discussion on unique hiring practices. His tweet about doing Spouse Interviews for new hires to find out about their personal lives happened to catch my eye, and I felt compelled to reply. Setting aside the legal ramifications of this practice, the ethical ramifications loom large to me. Everyone deserves to be able to separate work and life.

We’re in an age of dwindling privacy; of purposeful transparency and all of the ramifications of that lying under the surface as we march forward online playing our games, creating things, listening to music or watching movies, blogging, connecting to brands and people, and connecting to friends.

Even as I love the optimistic potential of the new technology landscape for health, connection, education, creativity and more, I am concerned with the divergence between that optimism and the positive ramifications of these technologies and the blurred ethical lines from people in positions of power. It’s not OK for an employer to require a Facebook password anymore than invading a potential employees life with a spousal interview is (and don’t get me started on the lack of understanding of the internet and these technologies in government that lead us to things like CISPA).

When hiring and looking to verify education, experience or other facts online, the same rules apply there as in the real world. It’s just that simple. This causes some interesting issues in an age where people can be careless with their privacy – posting public photos of their weekend warrior lifestyle or airing their private opinions in a way that becomes public (Facebook posts have led to several firings in recent years, and have become a common cause of divorces and other problems).

I’d love to hear from human resource managers, CEOs and others out there who are struggling with this new fire hose of information about potential employees at all levels. What kind of ethical decisions is this introducing into your company that you didn’t face before? Have you put policies in place to guide folks through this aspect of hiring in a tech age? Do you move forward assuming that if the person didn’t remember to set a privacy setting it “makes it ok” to use that info to make a decision? I’d love to get a dialogue going about this with you.

To spark your discussion, below is the conversation I had on Twitter that got my brain turning about this in more depth than just advising clients that professional social media sites like LinkedIn and professional blogs were great places for vetting employees but that personal social media sites are a touchier area.

Social Media Ethics: SMB NH #8

Get your tickets now!

This month’s Social Media Breakfast is brought to you by Magnitude Media, Dimdim, and Girls Inc. of New Hampshire.

We’re excited to have Girls Inc. of New Hampshire donating space at their Manchester Girls’ Center.  If you’re not familiar with Girls Inc. of New Hampshire, their mission is:

Our mission and passion is to help girls achieve their personal best through one-on-one attention, leadership development, a talented staff and volunteers, a wide range of enrichment programs, and a caring family environment.

Thanks to Ric Pratte of JitterGram for helping with introductions to the venue team.

[Note: In the event Manchester public schools are closed on the 22nd, our “snow date” for Social Media Breakfast NH #8 will be January 29, 2010.]

Social Media Breakfast History

On seeing growing demand in this area, I decided to fill the need with a new branch of the nationwide Social Media Breakfast in NH. It isn’t that we don’t love Boston, because we do, but our neighbor to the north is rich in technology and social media, and often overlooked when events are planned. I saw a need for networking opportunities that were easier to get to for the northern tech and social media crowd, and decided to step up and fill it. Because NH itself is a diverse and scattered state, the Social Media Breakfast there will be just a little bit different than the one in Cambridge/Boston. Our first meeting was in January 2009, and was a roaring success.

What is a Social Media Breakfast?

From the official description: The Social Media Breakfast was founded by Bryan Person in August 2007 as an event where social media experts and newbies alike come together to eat, meet, share, and learn. Marketers, PR pros, entrepreneurs, bloggers, podcasters, new-media fanatics, and online social networkers are all welcome to attend.

The breakfast series began in Boston and has now spread to more than a dozen cities throughout the United States and around the world.

How will the Social Media Breakfast in NH be different?

The main difference between Social Media Breakfast NH and other SMBs will be all-inclusiveness. I do not want only social media people and companies to attend, I also want technology types, programmers, coders, tech writers, tech companies and more to attend. As a state that is rich in technology but scattered in distance, I think the best networking and connection making effect will be achieved by combined our different cultures. You never know, as a social media type you might just meet the coder you’ve been looking for to create your dream project if we all come together to connect and to learn from each other!


  • Opening Remarks by Kevin Micalizzi (@kevinmic), Dimdim Community Manager
  • Welcome Remarks by Cathy Duffy Cullity, CEO, Girls Inc. of New Hampshire
  • Social Media Ethics in Real Estate: Jay (@acemaker) & Monika (@monikamcg) McGillicuddy. NH REALTORS™ who have been rocking the social media world, and who also conduct training on how to use social media in real estate for other REALTORS.
  • Ethics of Social Media Validation: Leslie Poston (@leslie), co-author of Twitter for Dummies, and founder of SMBNH.
  • Ethics of Social Media and Health IT: Justin Herman (@justinherman) is a digital public affairs and government innovation strategist who has diverse experience with the Departments of State and Defense, the U.S. Congress, healthcare IT, non-profits, charities and the corporate world. He is also the founder of TechAdventure and active in Social Media Club DC. He currently serves on the Planning Committee of Gov.20 Camp Los Angeles (

We’re looking forward to another great Social Media Breakfast NH.  Please join us!