I recently came across this blogpost admonishing HR people who stalk facebook pages.

Although I completely agree it's wrong to cruise the facebook pages of employees for what can only be the purpose of catching them doing something you don't approve of, I'm quite fascinated by the highly confrontational tone used by the author.  He makes good points, but if he hadn't already made it clear he doesn't like pantyhose I'd think his were in a bunch.

But clearly he knows something that I, as a newbie to blogging, am only just beginning to grasp ... that confrontation sells, whether it's check-out line magazines, TV, movies or blog posts.  So, if I was really smart I should be taking an opposing viewpoint. 

But since I can't, I'll invite others to do my dirty work for me ... are there times when it's legitimate to view the facebook pages of your employees if you've not been invited to be a friend?  What if you're concerned about violent or harassing behaviour spilling over into the workplace?  Given that in Ontario the employer has an obligation under health and safety legislation to take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to the risk of violence, would it be appropriate to view the facebook page of an employee who has exhibited violent tendencies in the workplace, or has been accused of violence?

Here's my take  ... I still don't think it's appropriate.  If you're in HR, or in any other leadership position for that matter, you don't need to cruise the facebook pages of your employees.  If you're a skilled leader who is taking the time to work with and understand your employees and develop a working relationship built on trust and respect, then you don't need to be a facebook stalker.  You know what you need to know about how your people behave and perform at work, and that's where their accountability to you begins and ends.  And if an employee has invited you to be a facebook friend then there is a level of trust that's implied.  If you don't think you can handle it, then don't accept the invitation.

If you're an HR person who has succumbed to facebook stalking even once, what's your take on the issue?  Do you believe you're within your rights to view public information and form opinions based on that information?  Are people who behave badly, publish it for all the world to see and then get called on it just a bunch of whiners who don't like accepting the consequences of their actions?  Has contemporary media turned us all into a bunch of voyeurs?

There really are more important things in the world than looking at what everyone else is doing and saying on facebook.  Here's an old quote that is especially applicable today.  "Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people."  (Eleanor Roosevelt)  And I'm pretty sure she didn't wear pantyhose either.



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