September 20, 2016

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Start-Up Helps Employers Stalk Your Social Media

Facebook and other social media accounts are routinely screened by human resources departments making hiring decisions or to check up on employees. Despite privacy concerns, recruiters and employers see Facebook as fair game when screening job candidates. For many employers the process of accessing social media accounts can be a slippery slope, but a new start-up called The Social Index has built a tool that helps employers streamline the search and screen process to stalk your accounts.

How does it work?
Employers can request shortlisted candidates to sign into their accounts using an authentication process. The program’s algorithm analyzes their social “footprint” including accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Within 24 hours the employer and the candidate receive the results of a report. According to the start-up, the results simply deliver an overall picture of how someone uses and interacts with social media.

What factors matter to the index and employers?
So what exactly are employers looking for when scrolling through your accounts? The Social Index seeks to “aggregate trends” and profiles what a candidate is posting, how often they use social media, how often they interact, and in some cases, how effective they are at using social media. The tool even has the ability to track what hours of the day you are using your accounts and what accounts are active. However, the system is only looking at public information—individual posts are not shared with companies.

Can an employee be penalized for social media use?
The short answer is yes. An employer has the right to deny employment to a candidate based on their impressions discovered through social media use. However, an employer will violate the law if it uses social media to discriminate based on gender, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or another protected status. A company is free to use social media platforms to analyze a candidate’s competency or reputation.

What about privacy violations?
Since employers are only reviewing public documents, privacy claims can be murky. According to The Social Index, individuals can deny employers access to social media accounts. Privacy claims are more likely to arise when an employer does not ask for permission or if an employer fails to inform an employee that a background check yielded an adverse employment action including failure to hire, demotion, or termination. Unfortunately, denying access during the hiring process could be considered a negative for any candidate.

Wanta Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees in Minneapolis, St. Paul and throughout Minnesota. If you are concerned about privacy violations or discrimination in hiring related to the use of Facebook or other social media accounts, please contact us here or call us at 612-252-3570.

Source: Mashable, “Employers trawling your Twitter? This startup is helping them do it,” Ariel Bogle, September 1, 2016.