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Germany to outlaw background checks on Facebook

A new law in Germany could ban the use of Facebook profiles for conducting background checks on potential candidates, according to a local newspaper.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière drafted the law,  according to Die Welt and Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German cabinet is set to approve the measure on Wednesday.

The law prohibits the use of non-career focused social networks that could potentially hinder or obstruct a job seeker’s pathway to a job.

In a strange twist, it will still be legal to Google a candidate, although hiring managers must disregard any information that is outdated or beyond the candidate’s realm of control.

Career-related professional and social networks are also viable means of conducting background checks.

Steve O’Hear of Techcrunch posed some interesting questions in a post today about the new law. O’Hear writes, “Firstly, how would you prove that an employee has or hasn’t checked out a candidate on Facebook or any other non-professional social network? And if Googling is allowed, then that sort of cancels out the Facebook protection, does it not. Much of Facebook’s data and that of other social networks is indexed by Google, Bing etc., some of which is revealed in the search result itself before actually clicking through to the URL, which if revealing will be hard to resist anyway. Status updates are often 140 characters or less, remember, perfect for those search engine excerpts.”

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