Pre-Employment Social Media Screening Deemed Legal

The incredible boom of social networking sites signals the beginning of an era in which job hunters have to show off more than just an impressive resume. Your online presence and reputation has become an additional focus in recent years, and the number of job applicants that have been turned down due to inappropriate social networking content is rising. In 2009, a CareerBuilder survey revealed that 45% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, with Facebook and LinkedIn noted as the most popular sites. But since the use of social media in the hiring process raises a lot of tricky legal questions, many companies still refrain from integrating social media screening into their employment practices. That is likely to change now…

Last week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Act dropped the investigation of Social Intelligence Corporation (SIC), a start-up company that provides in-depth background checks for employers including research from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Social Intelligence complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and anti-discrimination laws by filtering out protected information with regard to race, sex, color, age, national origin or religion, therefore eliminating the risk for employers to get caught up in discrimination charge.

We think it is important to understand that the service offered by Social Intelligence will make it even easier for a potential employer to find out information about you that may be used against you in the hiring process. AllFacebook, an unofficial Facebook blog that provides news, tips and guides on anything related to the social networking giant, cautions users to apply their privacy settings more carefully, as more start-ups with similar services are likely to follow, and social media screening may eventually become an integral part of the hiring process.  Social Intelligence reports include information about explicit photos, profanity, racist remarks (or the “liking” of a racist Facebook group) and any involvement in illegal activities.

We encourage you to clean up your Facebook profile as soon as possible and to use your privacy settings more effectively, if you haven’t done so in the past. SIC does not just screen your Facebook profile on a one-time basis and then discards the information, but actually archives files of Facebook users for up to seven years, even after you deleted inappropriate posts, photos or status updates. With that in mind, we also suggest that you set up your Reppler account so that you will receive instant notification (by default we send a weekly summary) if there is any flagged content on your profile. You can chose your own content categories, including drugs, alcohol, adult content and derogatory language, and Reppler will notify you immediately if you or one of your friends posts something on your wall that is considered inappropriate.

What do you think about this information? Do you care that there might be a file of your Facebook usage archived for several years?


2 Responses to Pre-Employment Social Media Screening Deemed Legal

  1. Alina says:


    Although it is not a secret that employers use social media to research job candidates, these figures are much higher than most people would probably think (45% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates). Employers are starting to care about your online presence and reputation. There are numbers of job applicants that have been turned down due to inappropriate content published on their social networking profiles. This highlights the risks of being mistaken for somebody else with the same name online and this is where we think miiCard can play a part.

    Last week we announced that online recruitment platform Firefish software is integrating miiCard identity verification to enable candidates to prove their real ID purely online – you can read more about it here:

    We are looking for your feedback – do you think that recruitment industry would benefit from using miiCard in pre-employment screening?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  2. Mickey Mixon says:

    I would agree to really check the person through social media since it will give you the needed information like the whereabouts and associations.

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