Can Personal On-Line Postings Be Used Against You?
May 4, 2005
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.