Social media screening allows employers to gain valuable insights into candidates. However, employers must carefully consider legal and ethical concerns and treat applicants fairly when undertaking this type of screening.
Red flags like promoting violence, sharing child pornography, expressing views about narcotics, and demonstrating inappropriate sexual behavior are easily spotted with professionally conducted searches. However, other information can remain hidden behind privacy settings.
While social media screening is a practical, budget-friendly alternative to background check services, it does carry the risk of legal issues. For example, hiring managers may unknowingly violate discrimination laws by making biased decisions based on information they see on a candidate’s social media profile.
Screening social media can reveal information about protected characteristics such as age, sex, race, national origin, religion, disability, and more. Using such information could lead to a lawsuit if a candidate proves that they were unfairly rejected for a job due to the company’s social media screening process.
Recruiters conducting social media screening alone could also run into problems.
When it comes to conducting social media screening, focusing on publicly available information can help avoid legal problems. Also, it’s essential to have clear policies in place to ensure fairness, consistency, and respect for candidates. For example, suppose you have a policy that states that you will only look at profiles that contain information relevant to the job. In that case, this helps prevent comparing one candidate to another or making biased assumptions. Lastly, using a third-party provider for the screening is also an effective way to eliminate bias and ensure that the information you receive is accurate and consistent.
Risks of Harassment
A well-designed social media background check can be a critical tool for HR teams. However, it’s essential to be aware of the legal concerns that can arise from this practice and take care not to use it in a discriminatory manner. Using the right vendor will help ensure that any information you uncover is used legally and fairly.
A comprehensive social media background search conducted by a consumer reporting agency can help protect your company’s reputation and ensure a safe work environment. A quality report will scan public social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as other web content that may be relevant to a candidate’s employment. It will only reveal publicly available information that can be linked to a specific person—it doesn’t hack into, scrape, or otherwise illegally access private accounts.
Social media screening can also discover red flags that are difficult to uncover with traditional screening processes, such as pictures of a candidate in compromising situations or posts related to drugs and alcohol. A social media check can also alert employers to content that could be seen as discriminatory or harassing, such as opinions about racial or gender issues. When conducted following FCRA and state and local laws, social media checks can be an essential part of the hiring process.
Social media screening is a powerful tool for organizations that seek to mitigate risk and create a safe, welcoming work environment. It is essential to have a qualified and experienced third-party company conduct all searches.
Discrimination claims can arise when employers search social media profiles for information on candidates that could be used to discriminate against them.
HR leaders must develop a sound, clear process for conducting social media screening that focuses on only public information and does not access password-protected content. They should also document the search so that there is a record in case of legal challenges or accusations of discrimination.
Various industries can benefit from social media screening, including highly regulated fields like finance, healthcare, and government agencies. They require high professionalism and trustworthiness, and social media profiles can indicate these attributes in a candidate. Businesses that interface directly with customers, such as retail and hospitality, may also find value in social media screening. This allows a deeper assessment of customer-facing employees to understand their reputation and professionalism. This will help to protect the brand from potential damage or distress caused by employee behavior.
A hiring manager can find much information about an applicant from their social media page that could influence a hiring decision. It’s essential to be mindful of how far back the search goes when using social media screening and that each platform’s privacy policies are considered. Private pictures or comments taken out of context can damage a candidate’s chance of being hired.
A good background check company will have clear procedures and standards to ensure the screening process is done fairly and consistently. They will use specialist tools, emphasize job-related criteria, and record the screening. They will also ensure that only “actionable” data is presented and redact any personal information from the results.
An employee who shows toxic behavior in the workplace can sink productivity, increase absenteeism, and amplify turnover costs, all of which can damage your reputation. An excellent social media screener can help you identify this behavior before it hurts your business.