The recent EEOC hearings on social media in the workplace have the HR industry buzzing. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing our analysis of the testimonies from these hearings and things you should take into consideration for social media recruiting.
Do you know what social media is? Most people think they do. As we already know, social media is only becoming a larger focus for HR and recruiting. But if the recent hearings held by the EEOC are any indication, there is nothing close to a clear definition of what “social media” actually means.
Recently, the EEOC had five widely respected panelists participate in a hearing on the use of social media in the workplace. As the EEOC, courts and companies try to define policies, rules and regulations around the permitted uses of social media in the workplace, the uncertainty over what, exactly, they are trying to oversee is worrisome.
What Is “Social Media” as It Relates to HR?
In no particular order, below are some of the applications and websites the panelists cited that would be deemed examples of social media. Some are obvious. And others will likely make you scratch your head:
Attorney Carol Miaskoff, Acting Associate Legal Counsel for the EEOC, defined social media by breaking down each word, “… media means modes of electronic communication, typically now reliant on the Internet; ‘social’ means that these media provide channels for easy back-and-forth between people.”
Another definition came from Attorney Renee Jackson, an Associate at Nixon Peabody, “… ‘social media’ will refer to any websites or mobile device applications (‘apps’) that allow users to create, post, upload, comment on, interact with, or share content with other users …”
Defining an unknown in an emerging space is difficult. And these panelists are experts in their field. So if the experts have difficulty coming up with a comprehensive definition, so will many others.
Clearly there is no easy way to define “social media.” Just about every website or app has the ability to comment, share, like or upvote. The Internet is now entirely social, by design. In this time of uncertainty, perhaps it is safer to consider a simpler definition of social media. Perhaps “social media” is the Internet—all of it.
As social media drastically changes the recruiting landscape, so will our policies for using the technology to find and acquire new talent. Download our free guide to get started with social media recruiting.
We’ve shared these tips to help educate you on social media employment screenings and considerations for your business—this information should not be construed as legal advice. But if your company chooses to screen applicants on social media or want to explore the topic even further, consult with an attorney for advice related to this screening tactic.