An Experiment in Hiring Discrimination Via Online Social Networks
Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College
Christina M. Fong
Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences
July 17, 2015
We investigate whether personal information posted online by job candidates is sought by prospective employers and impacts interview invitation rates. Advancing a methodology common in résumé studies, we create profiles for job candidates on popular social networks, manipulating information protected under federal or state U.S. laws, and submit job applications on their behalf to over 4,000 employers. We compare interview invitations for a Muslim versus a Christian candidate, and a gay versus a straight candidate. We find that about one third of employers likely searched online for the candidates’ information. In the Muslim-Christian manipulation, employers in Republican areas exhibit significant bias against the Muslim candidate and in favor of the Christian candidate; we find no evidence of bias in Democratic areas, and the difference in bias between areas is significant. We find no evidence of bias in the gay-straight manipulation. The results are robust to multiple controls and estimators.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: Privacy, Economics, Social Networking Sites, Labor Discrimination
JEL Classification: J7
Date posted: April 2, 2012 ; Last revised: July 18, 2015
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