Using social networks like Myspace and Facebook as part of a background check currently falls into a legal grey area. Apparently this activity is lacking any precedence in the judicial system which means it is risky. I’m not naive, I suspect most companies Google candidates to see what they discover.
Recruiting Trends provides an article that describes one area where trouble may arise:
There are anecdotes on the Internet of false postings under another person’s name – a sort of “cyber identity theft.” If anonymous information is posted, such as in a chat room, there is the new phenomena of Cyperslamming (sic), where a person can commit defamation without anyone knowing who they are.
What if some of the information you discover is incorrect? This could be a tremendous problem with legal ramifications.
In case you are a bit skeptical (I was), read this:
One rule to remember
If a website is searched by a background screening firm on behalf of an employer, then consent and certain disclosures is mandated under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
As I mentioned, uncharted waters so be wary.