MySpace Isn't Your Space


The advent and popularity of online social networking has changed the way Americans socialize. Employers have begun to tap into these online communities as a simple and inexpensive way to perform background checks on candidates. However, a number of problems arise and may arise when employers base adverse employment decisions on the results of these online searches. Three basic problems or issues accompany searches of online profiles for employment decisions: inaccurate, irrelevant, or false information leads to unfair employment decisions; lack of accountability and disclosure tempts employers to make illegal employment decisions; and employer searches of an employee’s online social life violate an employee’s privacy when his off-duty conduct does not negatively impact her employer.

Because searches of online social networking services such as MySpace and The Facebook only stand to become more prevalent and popular among employers, the law must expand to ensure users of these websites adequate protection from unfair, illegal or arbitrary employment decisions. Employers also stand to gain from such an expansion of legal protections because they will be accountable to make good employment decisions. The original purposes of the FCRA allow for and demand its expansion to cover the potential problems caused when employers go searching for a candidate or employee’s online social networking profiles. This solution effectively strikes an agreeable balance between an employer’s right to know its candidates and employees and an employee’s right to privacy and fair employment decision making.


Internet Law | Labor and Employment Law | Law and Society

Date of this Version

January 2007