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June 21, 2021

Service now officially offers employers Facebook background checks

So you know that, in many modern workplaces, employers run background checks on prospective staff.

Istockphoto_16586024-upset-african-american-man-with-laptop Today, that means, first and foremost, doing a quick Facebook scrub. What are his/her profile pictures like? What kind of groups are they part of? What were they up to last weekend?

Yet for all the cat-and-mouse elements to this system, it’s largely existed in the shadows of the hiring process. Most job applicants are fully aware it’s happening, but most employers won’t come out and admit it. Now, though, an online reputation company appears to be blowing the lid off the whole thing.

Last week, Social Intelligence Corp. was awarded the OK from the Federal Trade Commission to begin offering employers the formal service of completing online background checks.

Nothing will be safe from Social Intelligence’s sweeps: Facebook pages, Twitter messages, Flickr photos, Craigslist posts, blog rants, eBay ads. Everything.

Not that you need them, but the online reputation group provided two examples to Forbes of applicant reports they’ve provided employers. One applicant appeared in a photo on a social networking site alongside multiple guns and a sword, another “was designated racist,” says Forbes, for joining a Facebook group called, “I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English. We are in the United States. Learn the language.” Neither, it would stand to reason, were hired.

There are two good things for prospective employees in this Social Intelligence story, though. First, while Social Intelligence will keep records on tracked employees for seven years (meaning, once an employer sends the firm’s dogs on you, they’ll keep those results in their files for seven years from that moment), the same online faux pas’ can’t harm you over and over.

So, let’s say you weren’t hired for a job you’d applied for based on a social networking screw-up – a picture of you with a bong, dressed up as a Nazi like Prince Harry, whatever. As long as you get rid of that frowned-upon example, new employers wouldn’t have access to it upon conducting a new search (Social Intelligence only hangs onto the data in case a lawsuit is called.)

The best part: if employers will use Social Intelligence, they’ll have to disclose that to prospective employees, meaning if you’re not hired based on something you’ve done online, at least you’ll know it.

Does this change the “should employers use Facebook to decide who to hire” debate for you? Is it right for managers and bosses to conduct checks on their own, or should they be forced to go through professional services like Social Intelligence where disclosure is required?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...