Social media is a wonderful thing. It allows us to connect with strangers and loved ones, learn about the world around us, learn about different cultures and it makes communicate instant and easy. Social media sites can even help us find jobs. Despite all the wonderful things social media sites can do, they may also make life more difficult. This includes finding (and keeping) your job.
Companies have been using background checks, credit reports, and Google searches to pry into the personal lives of their prospective employees for a long time now. As communication, social climate and technology are changing, employers are starting to change their investigative methods. Because of this, many employers are now requiring potential hires to pass a social networking background check.
These social media background checks are now being done by a company called Social Intelligence. Founded a year ago, the company searches the internet for things that prospective employees have said and done online within the past seven years. From there the company puts together a profile that includes flattering information such as professional honors and charity work and negative information such as racist remarks, sexually explicit content, weapon displays, drug abuse, and violent activity.
Although the Federal Trade Commission was concerned about the company’s activities last year, they have ruled that Social Intelligence is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Despite this, the company’s actions still make many people nervous when it comes to privacy and fairness in the hiring process.
Less than a third of the information found in Social Intelligence’s reports come from social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Most of the negative information comes from blogs comments, web user groups such as yahoo, bulletin boards, forums, Craigslist and smaller social networking sites such as Tumblr. Videos and photos found on photo sharing sites such as Photobucket and Yfrog, and of course YouTube and Facebook also pose a threat to future employment.
The reports Social Intelligence complies do not include race, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities or any other information deemed protected under federal law. Job applicants must also consent to a background check and be notified if any unflattering information is found in their file.
Believe it or not, 75 percent of recruiters are required to do an online search of candidates. Seventy percent of recruiters have rejected candidates based on what they found online.