3 Things Screening Companies Need to Know About Social Media Checks

Has your prospect or client recently approached you about social media screening, or are you thinking about how to grow your revenue while supporting your clients’ evolving screening needs through uncertain times? If so, you are not alone.

Whether due to the tenfold increase in remote hiring or growing concerns about brand reputation amidst a tumultuous social climate, background screening providers have been reaching out to us in significant numbers. At their clients’ request, screening providers that we’ve connected with in the past are suddenly asking about social media and web screening.

But many companies we’ve been talking to have expressed challenges answering clients’ questions around the execution of this type of background check. Will the social media check work as it should?

As a background screening provider, here are three things to keep in mind to lead with authority in your conversations around social media screening.

Social Media Screening Is Legal If Done Correctly

One of the biggest challenges for any background screening company is the slew of questions or objections that come with screening social media and web content.

According to Dr. John Sullivan, talent management expert and author of the Toxic Employee Handbook, social media checks are among the most effective ways to prevent bad hires. Still, there are several questions that, if not adequately answered, may stop clients from moving forward:

  • Do the findings reflect on-the-job performance?
  • Will you get consistent results?
  • Will you encounter protected classes that might introduce discrimination or bias?
  • Is there a way to get documentation?
  • How can you make sure you identify the right person?

In other words, can social media screening be done legally? The answer is yes.

Many problems can arise when social media screening is not done correctly. But despite what you may have heard, social media screening can be done in a compliant way with the right process in place.

According to employment lawyer Pam Devata of Seyfarth Shaw, social media can be a useful tool in employment background screening when used correctly, efficiently, and legally:

“In general, the same rules apply whether you are using social media or more traditional methods for conducting background checks. The keys are consistency, accurate record-keeping, ensuring data accessed is not legally protected information, and that any decisions are rooted in business necessity.”

Thus, social media screening can be done legally and ethically—especially if you have a third party to help ensure FCRA, EEOC, and GDPR compliance. Working with a social media screening provider who can distill this data into accurate and relevant reports will shield your clients from protected information, while still providing the value your clients are seeking.

Download "The Legality of Online Screening" E-Book

Social Media Screening Can Help Provide a Holistic View

With the surge in remote hiring and social polarization, employers need ways to more fully understand how each new hire might improve or detract from their culture. As we face the biggest hiring shakeup in a generation, organizations in nearly every industry are looking to trusted screening partners to offer solutions.

But how are your clients expected to obtain the “full picture” without ever meeting a candidate in person? With many companies continuing to conduct interviews virtually, alternative methods have become essential.

As you speak with clients about the challenges they face, remember that the demand for social media and web screening has never been greater. Social media screening is one technique that allows clients to ensure that their candidates aren’t exhibiting intolerance, harassment, or other problematic behaviors that may find their way into the workplace.

Learn How You Can Protect Your Culture From Toxic Employees

Social Screening Can Fit Within Your Existing Tech Stack

You’ve integrated your platform with your clients’ information systems and set up a process to meet their screening needs—but can you incorporate another layer of comprehensive screening without jeopardizing turnaround times and procedures?

With Fama, you can. Manual social media screening methods are challenging to scale across an enterprise business. However, Fama is built on a RESTful API, meaning candidate data can be submitted with the click of a button, with reports returned directly to your HRIS or ATS and incorporated easily into your screening workflow.

Our web-based application allows your team to process reports seamlessly and generate PDF reports for clients to review, even without an API integration. In less than one business day, Fama can ensure that all publicly available social media, news, and web sources are screened based on your client’s customized criteria. That means a more comprehensive background check and better quality of hire, without slowing down the hiring process.

Next time a client approaches you about social media or web screening, consider these points and be sure to highlight the importance of having a trusted third-party administrator. Besides the benefit of compliance, working with a company specializing in this type of search can give your clients the candidate insights they need without the legal or operational downsides.

Preston Ames is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Fama. Before Fama, Preston held several monetization roles at leading technology companies, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. He is passionate about enrolling business leaders to utilize the power of technology to help their companies thrive.