The Process of Social Media Screening

Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and in the current day and age, it’s more popular (and personal) than ever. According to Statista, 4.2 billion users worldwide are on some form of social media, with 223 million in the US alone.

One of the largest impacts that social media has on our culture is its intentional lack of privacy. It’s never been easier to dive into someone’s personality through what they choose to share on the internet. Less-than-ideal tweets or Instagram posts by public figures and celebrities are often unearthed, leading to high-profile scandals.

It’s not just celebrities—inappropriate content posted by non-famous people somehow resurfaces and becomes sensationalized all the time, often leading to the companies these people work for making public apologies.

To protect yourself and your corporation’s reputation, adding a social media background check to your pre-employment screening or corporate due diligence is essential to ensure that your hiring managers are making the right hiring decisions and your candidate is a good fit for your organization.

Why is social media screening important?

As previously mentioned, social media background checks are necessary for a number of reasons. The screening process always involves seeking out and verifying information on a candidate, so adding social media screening to a background check is simply an addition to an already thorough investigation.

When used appropriately, a social media background check is an incredibly helpful tool to confirm that your candidate is the right fit for you and can protect your business in the following ways.

Hire better employees

A standard pre-employment background check does an excellent job of screening your potential hire during the hiring or interview process, but scanning a candidate’s social media platforms allows you to learn more about your hire’s character and how they conduct themselves in both professional and personal or social settings. Social media (especially LinkedIn) is often used for networking purposes, and a candidate with a good reputation and moral compass will keep their social media accounts tidy and professional.

Create a safe space for your team

Although 2020 and 2021 have created a new world of remote work and less in-office time, employers still owe their employees a safe, accepting, inclusive work environment. Hate speech in particular has been on the rise in social media over the last several years. While a criminal history report or a drug test won’t necessarily pinpoint the day-to-day values of a potential candidate, social media most likely will reflect their values.

Protect your current team members by ensuring that your newest hire or partnering business has the tact to maintain their professionalism and the character to keep your staff feeling safe and valued.

Protect your business

As social media has surged in popularity, so have inappropriate uses of social media feeds. Over the years, online bullying, hate speech, and public discrimination have had an increasingly noticable presence.

As a business, the hiring decisions you make also represent your business decisions to the public. If a candidate has a malicious or vulgar post go “viral” or a fellow client or partner recognizes them, you may take some heat for their actions. This can affect the reputation of your company and may even lead to financial repercussions and lawsuits against your company. By screening your candidate’s social accounts before you even hire them, you remove the risk of hiring someone who could ruin the reputation of your hard work, from bad press to major legal action.

What does social media screening look for?

Social media screenings during the hiring process will dive into a candidate’s posts and activity on social media and scan for red flags in their keywords and images. We know that your potential hire should be able to have a social life and is entitled to a social media presence—but we take extra measures to ensure their accounts are appropriate ambassadors to your company and brand values.

When scanning a candidate’s social media, most red flags fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Illegal drug use or dangerous intoxication (ex. drunk driving)
  • Violence, threats of violence, or violent images
  • Hate speech, discrimination, and racism
  • Bullying and insults
  • Explicit content and obscene language

Staying compliant

When used appropriately, social media background screenings are perfectly legal and won’t require you to violate your candidate’s right to privacy—but legal compliance is key to performing a social media background check on a potential candidate. When we perform a background screening at EagleScreen, we always perform it in full compliance with the law, regardless of your selected type of background check.

This involves authorizations and disclosures to your candidate as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Your potential hire’s protective right to their information requires explicit permission for social media screenings and any ongoing monitoring. Fair reasoning must also be provided to your potential hire if something on their social media is given the red flag and you choose not to hire them for that reason.

Discriminating against a potential candidate because of their sexual orientation, gender, race, or beliefs is against the law and should not be included as a part of a social media screening. In addition, it’s very important that the correct person’s accounts are reviewed, as common names can often have hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts under that name. Using accounts under a false identity to obtain access to a candidate’s private (or public) social media profile is also very non-compliant.

Is a social media background screening right for me?

With the current prevalence of social media, especially among younger generations, social media screenings are incredibly important to understand the character and ethos of your candidate. Your employees are an extension of your business, and you want to ensure that your job applicant’s social media activity proves they’re the right fit for you.

To find out how we can conduct social media screenings for your corporation, contact us today. We have the experience to conduct background screenings that are thorough, efficient, and compliant with the law.

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