Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can put the whole world on the fingers of consumers with only a few taps. However, it is easy to forget the significant impact that social media can have on other aspects of everyday life.
The new study dealt with the way in which social media could lead to discriminatory employment practices.
Researchers have found that some employers use the country or city of origin of candidates for jobs – information that is only available on Facebook profiles – as an indicator of whether they will invite them or not to offer positions. Although the study is based in France, the results are indicative of volumes for any labor market.
The design of the choice is important
The researchers sent more than 800 job applications from two fake applicants – one of them had a local origin, while the other had foreign roots. While both applicants filed in the files and covered letters that did not include their home-grown houses, their Facebook pages revealed their countries of origin to employers.
At the beginning of the experiment, the researchers found a difference of almost 42 percent in the applicants who received the call. The foreign applicant proved to be significantly disadvantaged when he came into contact with a domestic applicant.
However, in the middle of the experiment, the researchers observed a huge change in Facebook's appearance. Once Facebook has implemented profile cards, personal user information, such as the country of origin and the languages spoken, are no longer available on the home page. Instead, the changes required users to click more information in more detail to find more information.
After the change, when employees can no longer say a single click from which countries the applicant welcomed, the researchers noted similar rates of return calls between their two fake applicants. This finding may have been the most important in the study, as it shows that the distribution of social media was the main factor behind discriminatory activities.
Researchers invite social media companies to be aware of these findings and to keep them in mind when designing future updates or setting up a site, as they would have implications that would change your life.
"This study shows that design choices made by online platforms can dramatically affect a decision like a call or not, an interview job candidate," co-author Dr Matthieu Manant said. "Internet companies should integrate this fact into their design thinking."