Good vs Evil - The world of fantasy

The internet is a place of self-expression, freedom of speech, and creativity. It’s also a place of intolerance, hate speech, and bullying. When it comes to pre-employment background screening, what do you do? Strong opinions on each side will argue why this publicly viewable information is either essential in weeding out dangerous individuals, or simply none of your business.

You can…

  1. Take a stance of what you don’t know can’t hurt you?
  2. Try “googling” the person yourself and see what you come up with?
  3. Integrate a social media search into your background screening process?

What you don’t know CAN hurt you!

That’s why the background screening industry was developed in the first place. Existing criminal records you never searched for can be cause for negligent hiring. Existing queues into a person’s mindset based on information they willingly distributed through publicly viewable social media accounts can as well.

Why not google them?

Google might produce some social media profiles if the name is not very common, but then how do you approach a finding of negative information? A Human Resources professional “snooping” on an applicant’s social media can look bad for the employer. Discoveries can lead to awkward conversations at best and potential discrimination claims due to a lack of standardized process at worst.

Use a professional!

As a provider of background screening to our clients, we (or your provider) have obtained a signed authorization to process the applicant’s background check. This may include everything from criminal records and driving records, to work history, education, and even public information from the internet. When we treat this data with the same strict guidelines that we treat other types of background data, it benefits the client as well as the applicant.

Consistency is essential!

The purpose of a social media scan isn’t to provide the potential employer with a list of matching social media accounts, political memes, and personal pictures posted by candidates. It’s about specifically searching for harmful online behavior. Being specific requires parameters and documentation of those parameters. That’s where algorithms and filters come into play. Automation that includes (among other things) keyword scanners that differentiate between political language and threatening language. Image recognition software that can identify the difference between a person throwing a football and a person throwing a punch. However, we don’t rely entirely on software to do the work. Findings are always reviewed by human eyes to interpret beyond what a computer can. Human eyes can flag what is relevant and discard what is not. Filters can also be adjusted per client specifications or based on the applicant’s potential job.

Social media searches done properly will produce relevant data with actionable results and add a layer of protection to your companies and employee’s wellbeing. Want to find out more? Email us with questions or to request a free sample report. or 888-578-8600

Brad Jones is the Founder and President of SafeScreener, a background screening agency that has been providing corporations and government agencies screening services since 2004. Brad is an active member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and serves on the Chicago Chamber of Commerce’s Workplace Well-being Committee. For more information on applicant screening services or a free F.C.R.A. Compliance Checklist, please call 888.578.8600 x113 or email bjones(at)