The Social Media Background Check: Pros and Cons

We're big fans of social media screening. This shouldn't surprise anyone. But we're also big fans of objectivity. So let's take a deeper dive into the social media background check—pros and cons.

Social Media Background Checks: Pros

1. Helps you hire (and keep!) people who reflect the values you want your organization to be known for.

Do you want to hire and retain employees who publicly display toxic behavior on places like Facebook and Instagram? Of course not. Social media background checks can help you weed out potentially bad hires, and ongoing monitoring can help you maintain a workforce that reflects your company values.

2. Helps you create a safer and more productive work environment.

As we mentioned above, bad online behavior can reflect poorly on your brand, which can cause a PR nightmare. But what about the workforce itself? You have a responsibility to your employees to create a safe environment that's free from things like bullying, harassment, and other harmful behaviors. Again, social media checks and monitoring can go a long way in helping you foster a healthy environment.

3. Helps make monitoring the virtual water cooler a little easier.

The pandemic forced so many businesses to shift to virtual workplaces, something that'll likely continue long into 2021 (and probably beyond). Social media checks and ongoing monitoring help HR managers keep their finger on the workplace's pulse—even from afar.

4. Offers insights that traditional background checks don't offer.

Background checks like criminal history and education/employment verifications provide important data points that offer insight into a person's character. But social media background checks can provide much-needed context.

For example, someone's criminal history might come back "clean," but their social media history raises red flags due to threatening language directed at co-workers. The flip-side is also true. A person who served jail time five years ago could have a clean social media history. Not to mention, if you choose our social media background check solution, it can capture positive information as well, such as volunteer work, coaching, and involvement with charities.

Bottom line: Social media screening can provide a more complete picture of a person—for better or worse.

Social Media Background Checks: Cons

1. Can cause legal and ethical headaches (but only if you're making this mistake!).

When it comes to social media background check "cons," legal and ethical issues are the ones people tend to bring up. But legal and ethical issues have less to do with true "cons" and more to do with employers who aren't conducting the checks properly in the first place.

Because here's the thing: As with all background checks, compliance matters.

And when we say compliance, we mean social media background checks that...

  • Provide requisite FCRA-compliant authorizations/disclosures and get written permission from the candidate/employee to conduct the social media screening
  • Focus only on business-related information and redact EEOC protected class information when presenting results
  • Do not use any sort of hacking, scraping, or otherwise illegal or unethical ways to gain access to social accounts; in other words, only publicly available information is screened, in compliance with state privacy laws
  • Make a good-faith effort, as dictated by law, to ensure the correct person is being reviewed (for example, making sure you're seeing information on the "right" John Smith). Robust artificial intelligence, combined with human oversight, can help achieve this.
  • Have built-in compliance processes, such as consumer disputes management and adverse action facilitation, to ensure the candidate/employee is notified of the information the adverse employment decision is based upon and has the opportunity to confirm that all information provided in the social media check is complete and accurate.

2. Leaves candidates and employees with a bad taste in their mouths (along with accusations that you're spying on them).

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. A compliant social media background check will help shine a light on behaviors that can negatively impact the workplace.

We understand that employees or candidates might not necessarily see it this way, but that's often because they don't fully understand how legal social media screening works—or why an organization would choose to conduct the screening in the first place. Education is critical! Make sure you have a background check policy that clearly articulates a compliant and ethical process that promotes a safe and reputable workplace.

Once people understand that your goal isn't to snoop or spy, but rather to protect the workforce by flagging problematic behavior, they will likely come to accept and even embrace the concept, which means you can turn this con into a pro in no time and attract exemplary candidates.

Need help navigating social media background checks?

Good Egg has led the way in social media screening. We'd love to talk to you about your organization's specific needs.

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Danielle Deutsch

Posted by Danielle Deutsch

Danielle is the Senior Digital Marketing Coordinator at Good Egg & Foley Services. In her spare time you can find her either visiting an aquarium, enjoying a Broadway show or competing in a Crossfit competition.

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