Social networking sites – be careful what you say

17 April 2014

Swansea University have urged its students to avoid posting tales of their nights out on social networking sites, for fear that this information could be unearthed by potential employers.

The university said that they “…have received complaints from students and alumni about the potential damage this [posting of explicit content]…could do to their own employability, as a result of the damage to the university’s reputation”. Recent statistics put forward by the university would appear to corroborate their concerns. Thirty percent of all human resources directors in the UK use social media to recruit candidates, and twenty two percent will look at a candidate’s  online activity.

The university have also reminded students that comments posted on social media sites are not beyond reproach from the university’s regulations. The said regulations state that it is a disciplinary offence to bring the university’s name into disrepute. Furthermore, the university stressed that all online social media is governed by defamation and public order laws.

In March 2012 an undergraduate at Swansea University was imprisoned for posting racially offensive comments on Twitter about footballer Fabrice Muamba. 

In a world of social media where information, even if thought to be private, is accessible to many, it is important that employees and prospective employees give thought to what they post on networking sites and the consequences of their statements before the statement is made.  Employers should have in place clear policies in relation to social networking and identify what is not acceptable practice in respect of their existing employees and what action may follow for breaching those policies.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.