Business owners face a daunting challenge when it comes to navigating the social media landscape in 2023, and it can get even more complicated when it comes to their employees’ accounts.

Seemingly every day, there are headlines about businesses that have faceplanted on Facebook, TikTok or another popular social media platform.

But there are also numerous examples of employees who become infamous online and draw unwanted attention to their employer, which then has to deal with blowback they never anticipated. 

Legal experts say business owners can successfully navigate these issues, but they have to do so carefully. Here’s a look at what employers can and can’t do.

Can I look at a job applicant’s social media?

Employers can gain insight into potential employees by reviewing what they post on social media — as long as they do so carefully.

“Since it is important that employees are a good fit for a position, social media posts can reveal a more honest view of an applicant than what they might share during an interview,” said Marlene Allen Murray, a labor and employment attorney at law firm Fennemore Craig PC.

Reviewing public social media posts alone doesn’t run afoul of any laws.

However, an employer can’t use the information they find on social media to discriminate against a job candidate based on a protected class such as gender, religious beliefs or ethnicity, among others. 

“An employer might be sued by a candidate if any unlawful prejudice is shown by the employer during the recruitment process,” Murray said. “Employers should implement a recruitment process that establishes legal and consistent practices for screening employees.”

Written by Andy Medici.