Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law


Ian Byrnside

First Page



As social networking sites like Facebook.com and MySpace.com continue to grow in popularity, college students and other job applicants voluntarily divulge an increasing amount of personal information on them, often unaware of the potential negative effects it may have on their search for employment. Employers are beginning to take note of this trend and are increasingly using applicants' social networking profiles to supplement traditional application information. Many applicants feel that employers should not base employment decisions on social networking profiles in any way and believe that it is illegal for employers to do so. Yet, it appears that employers that view this information are on safe legal ground for now. The use of such social networking sites for gathering applicant information raises several potential legal issues, including invasion of privacy, discrimination, violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, violation of terms of service, and defamation. While some of these claims may seem unlikely to succeed and difficult to prove, this is an emerging area of law that is far from settled. This note will provide several suggestions for successfully navigating social networking sites in the employment relationship for applicants and employers alike.