Social media background checks now in the spotlight

37 percent of employers perform social media background checks on prospective employees and 84% now use social media as a recruitment tool. [caption id="attachment_4982" align="alignleft" width="300"]social media background checks Source: Molly Bell, Flickr[/caption] Is it legal? Yes, social media background checks are legal. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced they allow companies to compile seven years’ worth of publicly-available files and data from social networks and similar websites. However, you can only check for certain types of information, such as:

  • Aggressive or violent acts
  • Unlawful activities
  • Racist statements and activities
  • Sexually explicit content
Challenges with social media background checks Though legal, social media background checks come with challenges. The amount of data available about every active Internet user makes it difficult to find specific information without coming across information that it would be illegal to use in employment screening (such as race and religion). Furthermore, it’s not always conclusive. You can perform a social media background check based only things like an email address, full name, university, workplace, and physical location given in the resume. You can’t account for alias social media profiles. Additionally, candidates need to approve a social media background check, which gives them plenty of time to change privacy settings to make nothing available in the public sphere. In such a case, you’d have to take the legal route to force Internet Service Providers to give information. Lastly, privacy laws are stringent when it comes to collecting, storing and acting on the information you find through social media background checks. Remember, any misstep can backfire in the form of lawsuits from affected candidates. Be very careful in your actions, and make sure you stay on the right side of the law. Social media background checks, while powerful, can be difficult and risky. If you need help, contact us today and see how we can make it easy for you.]]>

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