Social Media Screening: A Friend or Foe?

Social Media Screening: A Friend or Foe?

6.4 seconds from the moment you start reading this, social media would have had a new user added to its population! This is how fast social media is growing and this is why global organizations are ramping up their usage of this interactive computer-mediated technology to cater to their business needs.

But technology is a double-edged sword. As much as an invention can be an organization’s growth enabler, it can also come with a few thorny risks and social media is not an exception. So, let’s see how social media screening is impacting the international background screening industry.

Social media candidate screening – an overview

It is not exaggerating to refer to social media platforms as ‘people databases’ when you look at the massive 3.48 billion social media users. Digital footprint of an individual is an inventory of information that can reveal a significant part of his/her character.

So what is social media screening? Social media screening is a pre employment background check process that leverages these digital footprints and helps companies hire the right candidates.

It is becoming increasingly popular among global organizations to review a candidate’s social media presence and activities across different channels, as part of their hiring program. This includes accounts held by applicants across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to name a few. Even blogs authored by candidates can be monitored for the nature of the content shared.

Today, potential employees are frequently updating information about themselves on social media which is favoring screening service providers and companies to a great extent. Also, since the information is publicly available, and hence, easier for recruiters to access.

Gartner’s Selection and Assessment Quadrant 2019 positions social media candidate screening as a highly innovative selection and assessment trend that is at a stage of peripheral adoption (i.e. early experimentation). Organizations see it as a highly important driver to attain future strategic and operational recruiting goals.

How does social media screening work?

Let’s look at what exactly happens in a social media pre employment screening process. A social media background check software performs a comprehensive analysis of all the profiles an applicant has on different social media channels. Through this, the tool scours the online activity of the applicant and senses behavior patterns that would put the organization at risk.

Technically, a typical social media candidate screening tool works as follows:

Step 1: The information about an applicant who needs to be screened is fed into the social media screening tool.

Step-2: The tool’s in-built algorithms push the candidate information into top-ranking search engines and social media channels in order to fetch results that match the candidate. Based on the results, a detailed report gets generated.

Step-3: The report is compared against a long-list of positive and negative reference points. Ultimately, all critical posts that the candidate is involved with are grouped and consolidated in the report.

Step-4: This report is further validated to ensure data accuracy and legal compliance.

Step-5: The Output file which includes screenshots and links to the profiles is delivered, based on which hiring decisions can be made.

With a fully capable social media screening system, potentially illegal activities, content that induces violence/aggression, obscene content, and actions that demonstrate racism and intolerance can be accurately identified and flagged as alerts that will help to make the right decision regarding hiring that applicant.

Risks in social media screening

Like every other technology, social media screening solutions also bear their own risks. The following are the major areas where companies need to dip their toes carefully when performing a social media check.

  • Social media checks can present a legal minefield of potential liability. Employers should be extremely cautious and should strive to meet the requirements of FCRA and enforcement guidance put forth by EEOC.
  • Employers need to be aware of the TMI (Too Much Information) scenario. They should refrain from using the screening tool to derive excessive candidate information which could be irrelevant to establish the candidate’s behavioral pattern. In such a case, the candidates have the right to bring a suit against the organization for discrimination if they feel they were rejected on basis of race, religion, sex or nationality (Title VII of Civil Rights Act).
  • Even though social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram are publicly accessible, they are not designed for professional use (as LinkedIn is). This creates a confusing scenario for employers when it comes to screening candidates based on their public (but personal) profiles. Moreover, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) demands employers to make it perfectly clear to the candidates regarding how they collect personal candidate data.

Social media screening: Handle with care

Companies that plan to incorporate social media screening as part of their screening program should ensure that the screening team:

  • is appropriately trained on compliance with global and local data protection & diversity laws
  • archives the reasons for not advancing forward with a candidate’s application
  • makes the company recruitment privacy notice available to all candidates
  • have a clear understanding of the policies pertaining to the use of social media for recruitment purposes.

Application leaders who look to transform their organizations’ screening programs, should focus on incorporating new technology like social media screening as and when they reach the market. This will help them strategize an efficient screening program with minimal turnaround time and force the pace in sourcing the right talent.

To know more about how you can leverage the friendly side of social media screening to bring in the right candidates into your organization, drop us a line via irene.jones@neeyamo.com. Our experts will get in touch with you.

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