Social Media and the Job Market: How to Reconcile Applicant Privacy with Employer Needs

In the modern technological age, social media allows us to communicate vast amounts of personal information to countless people instantaneously. This information is valuable to more than just our “friends” and “followers,” however. Prospective employers can use this personal data to inform hiring decisions, thereby maximizing fit and minimizing potential liability. The question then arises, how best to acquire this information? For job applicants, the counter-question is how best to protect the privacy of their social media accounts. As these two competing desires begin to clash, it is important to find a method to mediate the conflict. Existing privacy law, whether rooted in constitutional, statutory, or common law, is insufficient to cope with the practice, and pending legislation also fails to adequately account for the legitimate interests of both parties. This Note advocates a novel solution: a modified information escrow that would provide employers with the relevant information they seek while keeping private the substantive content of applicants’ social media accounts.