Germany says 'Nein' to Facebook prying

Katie Gatto · August 23, 2010 · Short URL:

A new proposed law would stop employers from checking out job candidate profiles on Facebook

If you've been worried that comprosing photos of yourself on Facebook may end up in the hands of a potential employer, don't fret.

Well, at least if that employer happens to be based in Germany.

A new law being considered in Germany would bar potential employers from searching the Facebook pages, or any other personal social networking sites, of their applicants when making an employment decision.

The law, drafted by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, will go to vote of Wednesday for approval by the German cabinet.

The law, intended to protect employee privacy, will not exclude profiles on professionally oriented sites, such as LinkedIn, or generic Google searches. The law will however prevent employers from considering any information on these sites that is out of date or beyond the control of the employee.

The question is, what does this law mean for you as an entrepreneur? You may think that if you are not based in Germany or do not hire a German citizen that this law has no impact on your hiring decision. But that may not be true. Let's take a look at some of the ways that the ripple from this German law could change the way that you obtain information about your hires. 

Senario 1 - The German law passes and other nations follow suit

Once one industrialized nation takes a stand, others begin to follow the trend. Since Germany is one of the most economically stable, and therefore currently influential members of the European Union, it is likely that other member nations will also jump onto this new privacy train. Once the idea has been tested, nations like the USA, Japan and Russia may also pass similar legislation. These changes could, of course, be less orderly, with citizens in other nations making law via the courts, with a series of discrimination suits.

Scenario 2 - The German law raises enough awareness that candidates sanitize their profiles

Pass or fail, if the law garners enough media attention, people will being to take action. The simplest thing to do is to take off any of the less-then-ideal information that lurks on your profile, turning what used to be an interesting source of information into another advertisement for the candidates, complete with family photos and information about their latest charity work, rendering the site useless for getting a real picture of who this person is off duty.

Scenario 3 - Your perspective on candidate search changes

Checking out your employees' personal background is all about building the best possible team, isn't it? Well maybe. But maybe not. Sure, you can spot any obvious issues that may prevent the candidate from fitting into your culture. But the same thing could be obtained with multiple interviewers, in-depth reference checks or taking some time for small talk. On the flip-side, judging a professional by their personal life could lead to false assumptions. How many times have you said something at home you would never say at the office? The majority of people know how to keep these two worlds apart.

The German Embassy was contacted for comment on this story, with no immediate response.

(Image source:

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes