Will you fail your social media background check?

By Hillary Greene, Intern

The Federal Trade Commission gave its approval to a background check company that screens job applicants based on their Internet photos and postings. Social Intelligence is a Santa Barbara, Calif., social media screening and monitoring service that jobseekers should know about. This service scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years. It screens for a handful of things that could cause legal problems for your potential employer: aggressive or violent acts or assertions, unlawful activity, discriminatory activity (for example, making racist statements), and sexually explicit activity. The company searches through websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, and individual blogs to obtain this information. A search of what you’ve said or posted to social media websites and the Internet in general may become a standard part of background checks when you apply for a job.

You should always be careful of posting job-threatening content on the Internet. Once you post something on the Internet it is almost impossible to erase. Now that there is a company that specializes in capturing this content and putting it into a file it may be even harder to undo the damage brought by a foolish tweet or scandalous Facebook post. Handle your share, tweet and post buttons with caution.

The job applicant must acknowledge and approve the use of a social media background screen, just as they would a criminal and credit background check. If something job-threatening pops up on Facebook or YouTube in a search of you, Social Intelligence puts it into your file — and it stays there for seven years. The data is reviewed and the company generates a report that only includes information an employer has requested, filtering out legally sensitive information like a prospective employee’s sexual orientation, race or religion.

Your next job application could require a social media background check, will you pass or fail?

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