Many employers engage in social media screening during the hiring process. However, this screening method is wrought with problems and should be carefully managed.
We wrote about the dangers of social media screening previously here. Ultimately, it is difficult to tell if information found during social media background checks is authentic or accurate. How do you know that an account you found for applicant Sara Smith is really her? It could be an account mimicking your actual applicant, or it could belong to a different Sara Smith. With these complications in mind, we have a few suggestions that can help.
Recently, we came across an interesting article in Security Magazine that addresses this topic. The important points author David C. Sawyer raises are summarized below. We also encourage you to read the entire article if you plan to engage in social media screening.
Social Media Screening Guidelines
Studies show that many employers are logging onto their personal social media accounts to scan a candidate’s social media posts. This is not an effective screening method.
How can you screen a prospective employee’s social media accounts properly?
First, it’s important to get permission from the candidate before performing any social media screening. This requirement comes from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Social media screening is treated the same as background checks under the act.
It’s also crucial to remember that your organization can only examine and judge public posts the candidate made. Even if they accept a friend request and you access their private posts, these will not count.
In that vein, you shouldn’t ever ask for passwords to their accounts or accept friend requests. This goes against many social media privacy laws as it creates a serious conflict of interest.
This is what you should be looking for when going through a candidate’s public social media posts:
- Hate speech. This includes derogatory, violent, offensive, and/or threatening comments directed at a group of people based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Cyber bullying. Rude and disparaging statements aimed at someone’s physical appearance or personality traits.
- Substance abuse. Posts related to drug use or images of drug paraphernalia.
- Obscene language. Frequent use of profanity, swearing or any vulgar language.
- Threat of violence. Posts expressing a desire or intent to cause harm to someone else, commit a crime, or harm themselves.
Like routine drug tests and recurring background checks, it’s also important to continue screening social media posts while the individual is employed at your company. Social media monitoring programs are an ideal way to ensure your workers aren’t participating in violent or offensive behaviors online.
Due to shifts in the workplace and the Great Resignation, many employers aren’t keeping up with social media screening. Hiring the wrong person can affect your business’ reputation and lead to recruitment problems. An example would be hiring someone only to quickly terminate them when you find something incriminating on their social media accounts. It’s better to enhance your screening process and find the right candidates the first time around.
Whether you outsource your social media screening or monitor accounts yourself, the benefits are worth your while. With a thorough screening process, you can eliminate risks and avoid EEOC violations. Furthermore, you can locate suitable (and responsible) talent for your growing business.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about social media screening Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: email@example.com or the website at randisiandassociates.com