There have been a few blog posts surrounding the recent move by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) giving their approval for the company Social Intelligence Corp to perform background checks on potential employees via social media.
Although the intelligence gathering organisation is supposedly only looking for ‘red flag’ activity, it is enough to make even the most conservative citizen cringe some, and we implore you to consider the full scope of information in addition to the ‘allowed’ aspects of your online social activity that is potentially at every one of your future employers’ fingertips.
According to Social Intelligence Corp, the company “solely generates reports based on employer pre-defined criteria, both positive and negative. Negative examples include racist remarks or activities, sexually explicit photos or videos, and illegal activity such as drug use. Positive examples include charitable or volunteer efforts, participation in industry blogs, and external recognition. Federal and state protected class information is redacted from the reports we provide. Employers are only exposed to information that is job relevant and may legally be considered in the hiring process.”
This may offer little comfort however, if you were fully aware of the scope of information available to external agencies about you. This ‘Personal Data Ecosystem‘ offers a realistic view of how information is legally shared and available; (Source: www.ftc.gov)
But before paranoia sets in, rest assured there are regulations in place to safeguard your privacy and ensure it is maintained lawfully. For information and tips on how to protect yourself online, the Australian Government has released a Stay Smart Online website with sections for children, teens, schools and teachers, home internet users, and small to medium businesses.
We’re told (via socialtimes.com) that to meet FTC regulations, Social Intelligence Corp “also requires applicants to sign a waiver that gives permission to perform a social media background check. This means you shouldn’t worry about Social Intelligence running background checks randomly without warning and consent.”
At the time of this post we are not aware of a similar agency in Australia offering candidate background checks via social media but we do know that many savvy employers and recruitment agencies are doing these checks themselves via your publically available information.
HAVE YOUR SAY: How comfortable do you feel about your next employer having this information about you before making a decision to hire you?
Sophie Newman for WHR Solutions