2 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2009
Facebook was one of the many social networking Web sites (such as MySpace.com) that launched in 2004. A free-access site that allowed users to connect and interact with other people, Facebook was immensely popular, having millions of active users. Of course, putting questionable content on one's Facebook page could become a source of embarrassment. In this case, consulting firm manager Miranda Shaw is trying to decide between two highly qualified applicants for a position in her company. She's leaning toward hiring one candidate until she finds photos on his Facebook page of him partaking in unsuitable activities (smoking pot, etc.) during college. Shaw is no longer certain about her decision. This case provides a brief and simple way to look at the issues, privacy and others, of social networking sites.
Miranda Shaw was stymied. She had been on the verge of hiring a highly talented recent business school graduate, Rick Parsons, as a senior analyst for her project team. It had been a choice between Parsons and Deborah Jones, another very promising hire. Both Parsons and Jones had graduated from the same highly ranked business school that Shaw had attended, had the appropriate work backgrounds, and had performed well in their multiple rounds of interviews. From their conversations, Shaw believed either one would be a good choice for the company. While she had had a hard time deciding, she was leaning toward hiring Parsons because of his leadership skills and his reputation for tireless energy and great communication skills. Before making her final decision, Shaw—almost in desperation, because she needed to submit her recommendation to human resources immediately—had “Googled” both of the candidates. What she had discovered about Parsons both on-line and at Facebook.com, while not necessarily a deal-breaker, was disturbing enough that she had to rethink her opinion.
Shaw was a manager at a leading consulting firm. She had worked her way up from intern after four years and was on the fast track to making partner. Her company was a special place and as she had seen over the last few years, it took a special type of consultant to work there. She remembered plenty of cases where new hires had left the company in the first few months because they did not fit in with the high-energy and high-commitment work environment. She had seen several projects delayed or worse, because of personnel issues. This high turnover was not good for the company because it invested significant time, energy, and funds to train and mentor new hires. Shaw believed in the adage that “you are only as good as the people who work for you,” and she knew that making the right hiring decisions was critical to her success at the firm. Shaw had to take these factors into consideration as she decided between two equally qualified candidates for the position.
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Keywords: Ethics, privacy, ethical issues, communication, hiring decisions, new technology, internet, social networking
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