Blurred Boundaries: Social Media Privacy and the Twenty-First-Century Employee
62 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2012
Date Written: January 18, 2012
This paper discusses the future of employee privacy in social media.
Part I reviews the extant legal landscape with an emphasis on three general areas of employer activity related to employees’ online activities: (1) monitoring and surveillance of employee social media profiles, (2) evaluation of applicants’ social media profiles and online speech in making hiring decisions, and (3) limiting employees’ off-duty online activities.
Part II reports the results of an empirical research project into the expectations of young employees regarding the role of social media in the workplace. We asked respondents about a wide range of topics related to social media, such as the extent of personal information they post online, the privacy-protective measures they employ on social media sites, their level of concern regarding their privacy online, and their attitudes and expectations regarding the use of social media in the workplace. Despite granting employers access to information about their private lives by participating online, respondents expect that work life and private life should be generally segregated — and that actions in one domain should not affect the other.
Guided by the survey findings and legal examples from international jurisdictions, in Part III we offer workable recommendations designed to protect employees’ desire to maintain some separation between personal and professional contexts.
Keywords: privacy, employment, online, social, media, millennial, digital, empirical, survey
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