A social media background check is similar to other types of background screenings, like criminal checks. It looks at a person’s past behavior since a person’s past can be indicative of a person’s future behavior.
Is social media screening legal?
The short answer is yes, but it must be done the right way, with compliance.
These checks are legal when you receive only relevant, publicly available, employment related information about the candidate that excludes details that could conflict with the Human Rights Code.
Are you wondering, “can I just do it myself”?
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If you complete the search yourself, you’re bound to come across these types of legally protected classes, and you can’t unsee what you’ve seen.
By using an unbiased third party to complete your protected classes are filtered out of reports so that you stay away from potential concerns around discrimination. You’ll only receive the business-related information you really need to make a hiring decision such as existing violence, profanity, illegal and explicit activities that in association may harm your organization.
A prime example of this would be if you were to look at a candidate’s Twitter feed and see this:
You might say that you won’t allow this to influence your hiring decision, but you can’t be certain.
It’s also extremely difficult to cover a candidate’s entire online footprint without the help from a computer aid. When we say social media, we often only think about the big guys like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. In reality, the internet has a vast range of mediums like LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, personal blogs, sites, and news articles.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has allowed third parties to develop algorithms to drill through the internet for us and bounce back information that we then as humans must sift through to determine relevance. At that point, data is quality checked to ensure that we only report on details that coincide with our strict guidelines and laws to protect our candidates and employers from malfeasance.
Compliant social media searches will not hack a candidate’s online profile. The key word in a legal media search is legal. If a private account is found, it is not investigated further. This is to safeguard all parties from wrongdoing. The candidate will always first provide consent to have their social media reviewed, as they do with criminal record searches. Then, the only data that is investigated is information that can be derived from public profiles. If a third-party promises that you that they’ll search the dark-web or untraceable mediums for you, stay away. This is when your social media screening becomes illegal.
Social media searches should be considered an extension of your overall required background screening.
They can reveal information that is often tougher to find through traditional screening processes. Social media checks are gaining in popularity since they have helped to increase the success rate of qualified hires across an array of industries.
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