Social media checks can reveal details about a candidate that hiring managers aren’t supposed to use in their decision-making processes. These can include information related to race, gender identification, and more.

This makes them a potentially risky tool for employers, especially if done incorrectly. Learn more about conducting a social media background check while mitigating the risks and staying compliant with EEOC rules.

How Do They Work?

A person’s social media accounts offer a direct insight into their personality and behavior. It allows you to discover their interests, highlighting the skills they may be unable to discuss during an interview. It also helps you determine if they share information that could jeopardize the company’s reputation or security.

While some people share indiscriminately about their personal lives, it is not unreasonable for a business to ask them to be more cautious about their professional lives. Social media background checks help employers protect themselves against data breaches and cyber threats by identifying potentially dangerous individuals.

When carrying out a social media screening, the team at GBS uses a combination of three key identifiers for precise identification: email address, first and last name, and date of birth. The system can then identify social media accounts belonging to the person and assess them for content such as violence, racism, and drug-related comments.

While this process can seem invasive to candidates, it offers a clear way for organizations to understand whether they are hiring someone who will fit in with the company’s culture. It is important to note that the review must be conducted ethically and with due respect for privacy laws and the terms of use on each platform. Using a specialist consumer reporting agency with the technology and expertise to conduct social media searches quickly and efficiently is recommended.

What Do They Look For?

Using social media background checks as part of your hiring process can help you find out more about candidates than you might be able to uncover during a job interview. This information can include posts, comments, and likes that might reveal sensitive or illegal information, such as references to violence, drug use, discriminatory content, and even affiliation with online hate groups.

It’s important to note that these checks are regulated and can only be conducted by third-party consumer reporting agencies. Employers conducting them independently may be liable for violating Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulations and be accused of bias.

A check on social media background will scan the public content on a candidate’s social media accounts, news articles where they are mentioned, and open forums. This information is then compared against pre-determined risk criteria to help employers make a better-informed hiring decision. Certn’s compliant social media screening is also done to ensure equity in the hiring process, which means that only the job-relevant risks are searched for – what food they eat on vacation or their partner’s race won’t be flagged.

It’s also worth noting that certain types of personal data, such as religion, marital status, political affiliation, or veteran status, cannot be considered during a social media background check. This is a key difference between background checks and social media checks, as a candidate may be rejected because of their views on these subjects despite their qualifications for the job.

Are They Legal?

Social media background checks review an applicant’s online presence on public platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Reddit. They allow employers to see information about a candidate that would be difficult to discern from a resume or interview. Still, they must be conducted legally and with the candidate’s permission.

These searches can help businesses mitigate security risks, spot culture fit issues, and find the right employees for their roles. However, a social media background check has its drawbacks. For example, a candidate’s social media profile may contain inappropriate posts or pictures for the company or could violate privacy laws (e.g., excessive cursing, evidence of drug use, or illegal activities).

Finding relevant information can also be challenging, as many people need to set their profiles to make them searchable. Additionally, there is a risk of a false positive, as billions of people do not have social media and/or use alternate names or aliases. Finally, a social media background check can lead to discrimination lawsuits if the results are used to unfairly deny a job or take adverse action against a candidate. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to understand the legalities of social media vetting and to partner with a trusted third-party background screening firm to ensure they conduct these checks ethically and by applicable laws.

Are There Any Limits?

Using social media background checks during the hiring process can be a great way to gain insight into an applicant’s personality and behavior outside of work. However, companies must be aware of the legal risks associated with this type of screening. Using a third-party background check provider that follows FCRA guidelines is essential to avoid exposing your company to legal liability.

These companies have the necessary software to delve into social media accounts and search for publicly available information. They can also scrub certain aspects of the search from the final report to ensure that they don’t inadvertently reveal protected characteristics like race, religion, or sex. This prevents your company from running afoul of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on those characteristics.

Even with the best intentions, it can be difficult for companies to properly execute this kind of search independently. Social media searches are often conducted without a candidate’s permission, so getting the applicant’s consent is essential before conducting a check. This can be done by asking for an authorization form, which takes away some of the risks of conducting these searches. A well-drafted form can help protect your business from litigation in the future.

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