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Are social media checks necessary?

Traditional background checks and due diligence checks on individuals and/or companies uncover historical datapoints of the subjects involved and this is extremely important before engaging the subjects. Apart from these checks (listed here), only Social Media Checks provide an ongoing perspective of the subject’s current behaviours. Social Media Checks are in fact really Open Source Derogatory Indicators. 

There are highly publicised social media posts or tweets which have caused unnecessary reputational damages to companies. 

The question is – Are BackGround Screening companies (BGS) like Avvanz allowed to conduct social media checks? Is it ethical and legal? As long the candidate gives a documented consent (aligned with the Data Privacy laws) to background checks including Social Media Checks, the “compliance” aspect is sufficiently addressed. Candidate will not be compelled to let the BGS access with his/her login or accept BGS’s FRIEND REQUEST. In our opinion, as long candidate knows BGS is going to analyze his/her social media profiles, the “ethical” concern is addressed too. That being said, BGS might have limitations as the candidate can switch his profile to PRIVATE thus limiting BGS’s research. Though there are intelligent algorithms that can allow for observing the social media presence and behaviours of the candidate, all checks are ethical and carried out to evidential standards. 

Are there any risks in using social media accounts for Hiring?
We don’t recommend social media screening to be the only check done on a potential candidate to decide on the hiring. It should be perceived as a valuable data point in addition to other checks. The data may be subjective but offers an opportunity to assess the personality of the candidate as well as scout for any derogatory indicators (to be discussed shortly). Discriminatory elements relating to gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability and political affiliations should be ideally filtered out.  

What are we exactly looking for on the social media platforms?
Using the candidate’s First Name, Last Name Email, Date of Birth, Education and Employment details, BGS will be able to avoid potential risks of scrutinizing the wrong person with the same name. Using complex algorithms, it is possible to vet across the internet for possible negative matches and negative and/or derogatory content refers to the following areas:

  • Radicalism
  • Sexually explicit content
  • Potentially unlawful activities including theft and fraud
  • Potentially violent behaviours
  • Racism and/or Demonstrations of intolerance
  • Unprofessional comments (vulgarity)

The research can become very extensive and detailed. In Avvanz, our derogatory indicator to date has exceeded 14% ie out of every 100 profiles, more than 14 have some form of “disturbing” content. Some snapshots (blacked out to remove sensitive information) can be found below to give you an idea of the kind of information that can be unveiled through these checks. 

Excerpt on “Radicalism” related findings:

Excerpt on “Potentially Criminal Behaviour”

Excerpt on “Criminal Behaviour – Sex Offences”.

Can Employers conduct these Social Media Checks themselves?

Just browsing through pages of Facebook or LinkedIn will not reveal much. Complex algorithms built with bespoke toolkits and powerful search engines along with professional social media researchers alone can produce a productive, consistent, comprehensive and meaningful report. Moreover, by viewing and inaccurately interpreting “protected” or sensitive information that cannot be considered when making hiring decisions, hiring managers may subject their organizations to high risk. Usage of alogrithms removes undesired subjective biases too and ensures consistency. 

How does Social Media Checks compare against Adverse Media Checks?

Adverse Media Checks consist of negative media from thousands of global news sources, capturing millions of articles of interest from breaking news, current events and relevant media dating back to the early 1900s. Again, like the rest of the background checks, Adverse Media Checks refer to past datapoints. 

In conclusion

These kinds of Social Media Checks definitely add value to the background checks as past data along with current dynamic data yields a complete thorough profile of the candidate thus aiding employers in making critical hiring decisions. With more of these checks now being very prevalent, it’s hoped that individuals will exercise more caution and responsibility when commenting, liking, following and even sharing posts on the various social media platforms. 

This article is written by Kannan Chettiar – Award-winning CEO of Avvanz. 

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