No more social media snooping thanks to new Irish legislation

It’s a taboo rarely admitted – ‘googling’ potential new employees to snoop on their profiles and assess their suitability for a job. Yet it happens.

From LinkedIn to Twitter, Facebook to Flickr, there are endless opportunities for employers to find personal details online and draw their own conclusions about prospective candidates.

However, that’s all set to change.

As of May 2018, a new EU regulation will be introduced to prevent employers from accessing social media accounts of potential candidates, without prior notification.

This will come as welcome news to avid social media users and those concerned about breaches of privacy.

From next year employers in countries governed by EU regulation, including Ireland, will be obliged to inform prospective employees in advance, should they wish to view their social media accounts.

What’s more, information they view must be “relevant to the performance of the job’. This may be some comfort to those with photo albums named ‘What happens in Vegas’ and ‘Saturday night selfies!’.

Ruth Deasy from the EU Commission office, Dublin, said: “The new rules that come into force next May will mean that employers will require legal ground before checking social media profiles of new recruits. And before they do that, they have to inform people in advance that they are going to do an audit of social media profiles.”

Existing employees

Social media snooping isn’t just resigned to new employees though. Some HR departments and managers are known to ‘lurk’ and keep tabs on their employees. It’s worth consulting your employer’s guidelines on social media and online presence, to understand their position.

In the meantime, if this concerns you, it would be prudent to change your settings to private access only.

If you run your own blog, you may want to consider writing under a pseudo name. When you register a domain, you can also opt to make your personal details private for certain domain types using WHOIS Protection

Time to switch to private?

Research suggests that 24% of teens have private Twitter accounts, and 60% have Facebook accounts (Pew Research Center), which leaves a large number of young people’s information widely available.

If you are concerned about your social media privacy, you are usually able to switch to a private profile in settings. This way viewers can be restricted to those you chose to have access.

Some platforms worth considering are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Flickr, MySpace, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr and personal blogs affiliated with you.

Even still, do think about your profile picture and biography which can sometimes be accessed without full access required.