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Social Networks and Background Screening

Posted in News Articles on 04/01/2010

Social networking has exploded over the past several years.  FaceBook®, Twitter®, LinkedIn® and other sites allow your current and potential employees to create and maintain a web presence.  Type social networking and employment screening into a search engine and look at the hundreds of thousands of hits related to this topic stating both the pros and cons of using them.  Is it a good idea to search these sites and others to find out about employees?  The answer depends on how the information will be used.

Many employers do look through these sites to look at their candidates to get a more well-rounded view of them than they would get during an interview.

  • What kinds of activities does the candidate engage in?
  • What are his/her outside interests?
  • Are there any “red flags” on this applicant?
  • Based on these things, will this person be a good match for our organization.

In addition to finding out about the good things your employees are engaged in, you may also find out things that could be discriminatory when used for hiring, including race, age, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.  Other considerations include:

  • Who posts the information on the applicant’s profile?
  • Is it really the applicant or has someone created a false profile?
  • If the applicant’s profile is “clean,” what happens when you click on the links to others’ profiles?
  • Did the applicant have control over who posted what that is related to him/her?
  • Is the information factual?

Currently, there are no laws on the books prohibiting employers from using these sites to screen their employees, but there are laws relating to what is done with the information that is obtained and how it is used.  Before using these sites, consult with your legal counsel regarding your policies.

For more information on this topic or for questions, contact BackTrack at 800-991-9694.