In the modern era, almost everyone old enough to get a job has some form of social media, whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or other sites. Employers are getting into the habit of checking social media before hiring a potential employee, but is taking social media screening into their own hands the best option? There are many things to consider before and during checking someone’s social media, and some employers are unaware of the legal ramifications of making a decision based on information obtained from the screening process.
To make sure employers are staying within the boundaries of the law and obtaining as much information as they can, they may consider outsourcing to a different company to complete the social media screening process.
Here are some reasons why employers should outsource when screening social media.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits discrimination against anyone in the workplace (potential or current employee) due to race, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, age, disability, and other information. Under these laws, it would be illegal if an employer were to find that information on a potential candidate’s social media and not hire them because of it. It is also illegal for an employer to hire someone on the basis of sex, race, religion, or other protected information. This information can be found when searching social media and may cause the employer to unintentionally (or intentionally) become biased.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects the accuracy and privacy of a potential employee’s data. Regardless of where the information is obtained for a background check — whether it be credit reports, criminal records, or social media — companies must still comply with the FCRA. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that companies must take “reasonable steps to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of what’s reported from social networks and that it relates to the correct person” and comply with other FCRA sections, such as “providing copies of reports to people and having a process in place if people dispute what’s said about them in a report.”  Hiring an FCRA-compliant company to screen social media takes some of the pressure of keeping in line with guidelines and laws off of the employers.
Hiding Protected Information
Instead of risking a lawsuit, an employer should outsource to an FCRA-compliant company so they can filter out the protected information (sex, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.) before it reaches the employer’s desk and minimizes the risk of a biased hiring decision. It is illegal not to hire someone based on protected information. Once an employer sees it, they can’t unsee it. It is safer to hire an outside source to complete the social media screening instead of risking being reported to the FTC.
Employers don’t always have the resources and programs to make sure that they are reviewing the correct social media profiles. Sometimes people don’t use their full name (or their name at all) on social media, which can make it difficult for employers to find the correct profiles. They may also have separate accounts that use a different name in an attempt to hide their identity (whether for privacy reasons or suspicious reasons). An employer may not be able to find those profiles and get a clear idea of who they may be hiring. Third-party companies that are FCRA-compliant have resources that allow them to identify all of the candidates’ profiles, ensuring an accurate and complete screening report.
Selecting the Best Third-Party Company
As simple as it may seem to screen a potential employee’s social media, many factors could lead to legal action being taken against the employer. With that in mind, employers should consider recruiting an FCRA-compliant third-party company to conduct a social media screening process. ClearStar is not only FCRA-compliant, but we also have a complete understanding of what is permissible to report and don’t report any extraneous data. We provide detailed reports, including screenshots of information found, and offer multiple search options for depth, areas, and locations of interest. We offer both stand-alone reports and reports integrated with comprehensive background checks to cover any employer’s needs.
To place an order for a social media screening report or other background checks, contact ClearStar at +1.888.982.4648 or visit https://www.clearstar.net/contact/.