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Copacetic for Employers To Do A Facebook Background Check of Job Applicants?

By Minara El-Rahman on August 31, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Germany is a country that is attempting to grapple with controversial online data privacy issues.  One of my recent blog posts dealt with German legislation that seeks to address Google Street view. Now, Germany is taking on the issue of employers reviewing the social networking pages of prospective employees.

According to Spiegel Online, German legislation has been drafted that is intended to prevent employers from doing a Facebook background check and from checking other social networking pages of job applicants as part of the hiring decision process. 

However, employers reportedly would be allowed to review sites, like LinkedIn, that are specifically intended to enable job applicants to promote themselves to employers. 

Furthermore, information that generally is available on the Internet about job candidates reportedly would be permitted for review by employers, suggesting that employers could conduct Google searches relating to job applicants.

But employers reportedly would not be entitled to use Internet information pertaining to job applicants if that information is too dated or is beyond the control of the applicants. 

Obviously, the foregoing is vague and the devil will be in the precise details of the legislation, to the extent it actually becomes law. 

And even if a law is passed in Germany, and perhaps laws in other countries, people still would be smart not to live to out loud on their social networking pages. Plainly, people will post personal information on their individual social networking pages from time to time, yet they should take care not to post information or photos that might seem fun at the moment, but that later could be embarrassing and could cause negative consequences.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes.  His Web site is and he can be reached at  To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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