Do Prospective Employers Need Your Permission to Check Your Social Media?

The law, in general, has not caught up to all of the latest trends in technology, including the use of social media by prospective employers to screen potential employees and/or discipline employees for conduct portrayed on social media. 

Case Study – MH v Rhodes University

In the matter of MH v Rhodes University (20 March 2017) 2017 7 BALR 785 (CCMA) an employee who posted a photo of and made statements about a colleague on Facebook was found guilty of offensive conduct during the subsequent disciplinary hearing, despite the disciplinary sanction being found to be unfair at arbitration the employee had resigned. Her chances of future employment had been negatively affected.

Legal Insights on Social Media and Personal Information Online

Available case law, both local and international, indicates that employees who willingly post personal information on the Internet do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy; this would include protection under the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013. Social media networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., may be accessed by the public, meaning the content posted on such networks is public domain. 

Due to the content posted on social media networks being considered public domain, prospective employers and/or employers possess the right to Google a prospective employee and/or an employee to gain information on the individual. This ‘right’ is limited by a prospective employee and/or an employee changing his/her social media privacy settings. 

How Your Online Presence Can Impact Your Job Prospects and Career

Employers or recruitment agencies screen applicant’s social media to find reasons to reject the applicant. Employers believe this type of screening is beneficial because people are generally more honest online than during job interviews. 

While already established employees may have their social media screened for several reasons, including disciplinary action, as is an example of the lecturer at the University of Cape Town who was discovered to have posted on Facebook that “the #MenAreTrash movement is ‘bullsh*t’ and that women simply cannot attract quality men”, which was deemed to be against the university’s values.

Simply put, beware of the content you post online!

If you would like to learn more about how social media can affect your career, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 0861 737 263 or visit our website: