German law would bar employer Facebook searches

It didn’t take long after online social networking took hold as a mainstream technology that the personal monuments people created for themselves on the Web began generating a mounting array of horror stories about employers — current or prospective — that came across photos or other content depicting job holders or job seekers engaged in erotic/reckless/illegal/otherwise-unflattering conduct, with a decidedly negative impact on the individuals’ employability.

It’s become commonplace. It is now a career counselor’s stock in trade to warn against posting content that could show you in a negative light on sites like Facebook. President Obama even warned of the perils of Facebook last September. He was talking to students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., and one asked for career advice.

“First of all, I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook, because in the YouTube age, whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life,” Obama said. “And when you’re young, you make mistakes and you do some stupid stuff. And I’ve been hearing a lot about young people who — you know, they’re posting stuff on Facebook, and then suddenly they go apply for a job and somebody has done a search and — so that’s some practical political advice for you right there.”

That’s one approach. Germany has another.

What if the employer weren’t even allowed, under law, to look at an employee’s Facebook profile?

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