Can Social Media Lead to Labor Market Discrimination? Evidence from a Field Experiment

37 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2014 Last revised: 18 May 2018

See all articles by Matthieu Manant

Matthieu Manant

Université Paris XI Sud

Serge Pajak

Université Paris XI Sud - Faculty Jean Monnet

Nicolas Soulié

University of Paris- Sud 11

Date Written: July 24, 2017

Abstract

Disclosing personal information on social media has become a daily habit for millions of online users. Facebook originally was intended for leisure and for maintaining personal relationships, but content published on Facebook has become pervasive and is accessible to recruiters. In this paper, we investigate the role of social media on discrimination during hiring. We set up a field experiment over a 12-month period, involving more than 800 applications from two fictitious applicants, which differed in one aspect, their perceived origins, available only from their Facebook profiles. A significant 37% gap between the two applicants callback rates highlights that personal online profiles are used to discriminate against applicants of foreign origin. Additionally, during the experiment an unexpected change in the Facebook layout altered the display of our online signal. We take advantage from this natural experiment to confirm the relevance of the information available on social media profiles, suggesting that the screening conducted by the employers does not go beyond the main pages of profiles.

Keywords: Online Social Network; Labor Market Discrimination; Privacy; Field experiment

JEL Classification: J71; D83; K31; C93

Suggested Citation

Manant, Matthieu and Pajak, Serge and Soulié, Nicolas, Can Social Media Lead to Labor Market Discrimination? Evidence from a Field Experiment (July 24, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2458468 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2458468

Matthieu Manant

Université Paris XI Sud ( email )

15, rue Georges Clemenceau
Orsay cedex, 91405
France

Serge Pajak (Contact Author)

Université Paris XI Sud - Faculty Jean Monnet ( email )

54 Boulevard Desgranges
Sceaux Cedex, 92331
France

Nicolas Soulié

University of Paris- Sud 11 ( email )

54 Boulevard Desgranges
Sceaux, 92331
France

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