When making a decision to select a candidate to join your company or organization – whether as an employee, volunteer, resident or tenant, franchisee, or a member – a background check that does not include a social media check can place your company and its brand at significant risk. Performing social media checks, when done properly can be obtained in a compliant manner, not only with the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines but also with other government regulations.

Ask yourself what stands out in your mind more – the time an employee did a good job, or the time an employee really messed something up? The many positive reviews that was left for a business, or the negative review that tried to bring down its reputation? This notion stands true during the interview process.

Background checks have been around for a long time and are an extremely useful tool in helping Human Resource professionals and business owners decide whether an individual is a good fit for the company or specific position. Rarely does one recall when an applicant’s record comes back clean, but it is much harder to forget about the time they came across a murderer or sex offender. Many companies would be reluctant to have an individual with that level of a criminal history being associated with their brand.

Are social media background checks important?

2020 was a very divisive year, where opinions became more poignant. Free speech has and always will be a core pillar of our American society. At the same time, employers have the right to decide which employees or potential employees fit the image of the brand they are trying to build. We saw countless instances where an employee’s social media posts resulted in harm to their company. Through viral social media, those public opinions are now easily traced back to a person and the company they work for, as well as the organizations to which they belong.

A brand’s reputation is as crucial to its success as anything. There is no way to fully protect a brand, but every measure should be taken to try to protect it. One of the tools that should be used to help protect brands is social media screening. Now that the technology has caught up to speed, and companies like Reliable Background Screening are able to perform these searches in an FCRA-compliant way, social media screening has become a must. Whether it is for employee screening, franchisee screening, or membership screening, social media screening can go a long way to help ensure the right fit for an organization.

How Employers Can Screen Social Media Profiles?

Reliable Background Screening utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze both text and images to look for any negative or flagged posts that contain harmful items like hate speech, bullying, racism, or other key words that are relevant to an organization. These posts are compiled and put into a comprehensive report that can be reviewed by decision makers prior to hiring an employee, accepting a franchisee, or admitting a new member to a private club.

Today with Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), social media background checks can be performed efficiently and compliantly, removing data that would reveal protected class status. Further, A.I. can target the undesirable behavioral characteristics, from which your company or organization wants to be disassociated. Traits such as hate speech, bullying, obscenities, violence, illegal activities, and more, can be filtered to help determine if your candidate will be suitable as an addition to your team (of course when combined with the other components of a background check – criminal history, credentials verification, drug screening, etc.).

Can Employers See Private Social Media?

While many people have their social media profiles set to private, it’s not the private accounts that organizations should be worried about. When a profile is public, that is where we have seen certain posts go viral and spread like wildfire to take down brands and businesses. Keep in mind, every company and organization is unique and will be looking for different aspects of an applicant’s social media profile when determining if it is a good fit or not.

Is it worth the cost? Social media searches generally cost less than $50. Think about what you pay an employee in one day. Think about the consequences of bringing in the wrong franchisee to a franchise network. Think about the effect a bad member can have on a country club. Like background checks, social media screening is an effective tool at a relatively low cost. Employers can save themselves from potential disasters down the road by mitigating risk before a hiring or applicant approval decision is made.

2020 showed us how quickly a brand can be affected by an inappropriate social media post. There are no guarantees of what will happen in the future, but one must do everything they can to protect their brand. A brand takes a lot of time and is hard to build, yet sadly, it does not take much to quickly take a brand down with the world we live in today. Is social media screening worth it? History appears to tell us it’s a worthy investment.

When incorporating social media checks into your background check program, be sure to always seek a reliable background screening company that is also a consumer reporting agency (CRA). A CRA understands its responsibilities under the FCRA, including honoring the dispute rights of the individuals being background checked. A reliable background screening company that is also a consumer reporting agency (CRA), so that your company stays in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA – the federal law that governs background checks.)

Posted by: Rudy Troisi, L.P.I., President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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