By Danny Davila, Director of FCRA Regulatory Risk and Consumer Compliance Advisor, GroupOne Background Screening

Our workforce is truly a connected population. Today, talent acquisition has incorporated social media extensively when sourcing and recruiting. This comes with its own unique risks HR professionals should be aware of.

In a CareerBuilder survey, it was reported 70 percent of companies use social media screening. In 2018, there were 282 million internet users and 192 million social media users. The growth of social media initiates aggressive monitoring by HR to ensure candidates are not participating in unfavorable behaviors. It is concerning to have HR staffers stalking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to determine candidates. I’m sure you’re thinking, “But how can I be certain I’m hiring the right person?”

With increasing numbers of employees terminated due to social media each year, companies have started to develop policies. Such rules may be basic, focusing on privacy and security. They can also include a list of what cannot be posted.

From the presentation, “The CRA Guide to Social Media Background Screening” by Bianca Lager of Arnall Golden Gregory, LLP, she stated social media can be used in hiring decisions and serve as consumer reports. While social media reports are different from traditional background reports, they are governed by permissible purpose, adverse action and the use of policies concerning accuracy. The social media report must also ensure it follows FCRA guidelines.

A company’s HR department may decide to assign these reports to their teams, but the time required may not support department goals. One of the most concerning issues is once your staff has viewed the content, it cannot be “unviewed.” Such situations can put organizations at risk. Some goals to consider during social media screening:

• Applicants must be informed their information is being collected;
• Applicants must provide consent;
• These records may not be kept for longer than necessary.


Employers should avoid declining a candidate based on social media profiles alone. HR teams should include the candidate’s application, interviews and background reports to make final hiring decisions. For more information, please contact me at [email protected].

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