Can Personal On-Line Postings Be Used Against You?

Nick Fishman

A recent article featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Teacher Accused of Attempted Murder Wrote Self-Profile that Counters Image raises a very interesting question as it relates to the use of admissibility of personal on-line postings as a tool for pre-employment screening.  According to the story, a school teacher in Missouri is now standing trial for murder.  After some some initial digging, investigators found that the teacher had posted a personal profile on an on-line forum where he indicated that his hobbies include "pimping, prostitutes and pornography".  While freedom of speech is a tenant we hold very dearly in this country, can the language one uses be held against him or her when they are looking for a job?  It can easily be demonstrated that the language used above can be grounds not to hire someone a school would entrust to teach children, but should such language preclude an individual from getting a manufacturing job, for example. 

Another question to be raised is one based on persona.  How does one prove that role playing wasn’t taking place at the time of a posting and that these are the genuine feelings or thoughts of the individual?  I don’t have the answer to these questions, but you can be sure that significant cases are forth coming which will highlight this very issue sooner rather than later.   

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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