International

Germany Considers Ban On Employers' Facebook Use

Angela Merkel, Guido Westerwelle

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrive at a government meeting to discuss, among other topics, a ban on companies checking job applicants' Facebook profiles.  Markus Schreiber/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Markus Schreiber/AP

It's just part of what many of us have come to expect in the Internet age — employers doing Facebook searches as part of the pre-hiring scrub of job candidates.

But the German government could be coming to the aid of all those Deutschlanders who are so clueless they post dubious photos or information about themselves to their Facebook pages where potential employers can see them.

The New York Times reports that German officials are considering legislation that would ban employers from searching Facebook to investigate potential hires:

As part of the draft of a law governing workplace privacy, the German government on Wednesday proposed new restrictions on employers’ use of Facebook profiles when recruiting.

The proposed law would allow managers to search for publicly accessible information about prospective employees on the Web and to view their pages on job-networking sites, like LinkedIn or Xing, but would draw the line at purely social-networking sites like Facebook, said Philipp Spauschus, a spokesman for the Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet gave its backing to the proposed law Wednesday. The bill will now go to Parliament for discussion, and could be passed as early as this year, Mr. Spauschus said.

This move is likely to increase Germany's reputation in some quarters as a nanny state.

Also, while some job applicants would certainly be hurt by the information in their profiles, others conceivably could be helped.

For instance, maybe some profiles would give the impression that particular job applicants were devoted workers, had interesting hobbies or charity work or high integrity.

There conceivably could be an upside for some job applicants whose Facebook profiles were reviewed by potential employers. But if the German bill becomes law, that possibility would be lost in order to protect Germans from the possible downside.

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