Recently the media have reported the story of Paris Brown, the former youth police and crime commissioner for Kent, who was forced to resign from her post on 9 April 2013, after the Mail on Sunday publicised tweets she had previously made and which could be considered homophobic and racist. The comments were made by 17 year old Paris when she was aged between 14 and 16.
This story highlights the need for employees to consider carefully what they post on social media sites because it can have a direct impact on their employment even several years later.
It was admitted by Kent Police that they did not check Ms Brown's Twitter feed as part of their recruitment process. However, incorporating social media checks into a recruitment process is becoming more commonplace. This vetting raises certain legal issues including data protection compliance issues and the risk of unlawful discrimination. However, it is possible for employers to proceed in this way.
Therefore it is essential that employees consider very carefully what they write or publish on any social media platform because it could potentially cost them the opportunity to be considered for a job. It may well not matter that any offensive comments were made when the prospective employee was young and arguably immature, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the job.