Toronto Metropolitan University
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Cybervetting and the Public Life of Social Media Data

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-25, 18:05 authored by Anatoliy GruzdAnatoliy Gruzd, Jenna JacobsonJenna Jacobson, Elizabeth Dubois

The article examines whether and how the ever-evolving practice of using social media to screen job applicants may undermine people's trust in the organizations that are engaging in this practice. Using a survey of 429 participants, we assess whether their comfort level with cybervetting can be explained by the factors outlined by Petronio's communication privacy management theory: culture, gender, motivation, and risk-benefit ratio. We find that respondents from India are significantly more comfortable with social media screening than those living in the United States. We did not find any gender-based differences in individuals' comfort with social media screening, which suggests that there may be some consistent set of norms, expectations, or "privacy rules" that apply in the context of employment seeking-irrespective of gender. As a theoretical contribution, we apply the communication privacy management theory to analyze information that is publicly available, which offers a unique extension of the theory that focuses on private information. Importantly, the research suggests that privacy boundaries are not only important when it comes to private information, but also with information that is publicly available on social media. The research identifies that just because social media data are public, does not mean people do not have context-specific and data-specific expectations of privacy.