Companies that are not using Facebook and other social media to screen hiring candidates will soon be in the minority. The very thoughtful discussion in this article contains survey data indicating that almost 40% of employers are using social media as an aid in hiring. More importantly, almost half of those screening with social media found something on a candidate's site that disqualified her from the position she sought.
50% is a pretty big number. And it's more than twice the number of employers that discovered something that caused them to want to hire a candidate.
Moreover, given the firestorm that is breaking over what several professional football players tweeted about the NFL's first openly homosexual player, many companies view their employees' social media posts as a ticking time bomb of liability. The article notes that healthcare professionals, for example, discussed private patient information on their social websites, sales employees e-mailed or posted customer credit card and account information to sites outside the company firewall, and any Google search will show dozens of examples of inappropriate comments about jobs, bosses, coworkers, company leadership, etc. leading to unwanted publicity and legal exposure.
So the short answer for employers is to have a social media policy that doesn't excite the folks over at the NLRB, but delineates employee responsibilities and company standards. At the same time, the company should have an operations policy that describes for managers how the company social media policy will be monitored and enforced.
Once again, it's good to be an employment lawyer.