Germany seeks to ban employers from checking applicants' Facebook pages



The Associated Press reports that Germany is considering a law that aims to prohibit potential employers from looking at job seekers’ Facebook pages or other private postings.

The proposed law would make it illegal for someone to “friend” an applicant to check out their photos and other private details. The AP says that “a rejected job applicant who proves he or she was turned down based on violation of the new law could take the company to court and claim damages.”

But even German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who presented the draft law, acknowledged that enforcement might be tough. After all, is it possible to conclusively prove you lost the job because of those unfortunate Mardi Gras photos, and not because another candidate was more qualified?

The creation of Facebook and other social media sites has changed the rules for all employers and job seekers — including those trying to get a job with the federal government. (The government also has struggled to figure out social media rules for its already-existing employees, though there hasn’t been any talk about limiting hiring managers’ abilities to look at applicants’ pages.) But instead of passing new, unenforceable laws like Germany is trying to do, why can’t people simply exercise a little common sense when they’re looking for a job?

Some job seekers have begun de-tagging incriminating photos or otherwise scrubbing their Facebook pages in recent years. If you absolutely, positively must post your bachelor party photos, it’s not that hard to beef up your security settings or create a list restricting who can view them.

And de Maiziere said that some people “seem to be indiscriminate” about who they accept as a friend, which he says is another reason the new law is needed. But once again, common sense. Do you really need so many Facebook friends that you accept anyone who comes along without thinking? After all, forgetting who you’re friends with exponentially increases the chances of posting something stupid and job-jeopardizing that your boss can see.


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