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FOS Blog

07 Sep

Protection Through Social Media

Protection Through Social Media

Social media is becoming one of the most used tools to conduct background checks on potential employees.  Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are an effective way to gain insight when making a hiring decision about a candidate.  Unfortunately, people do not act appropriately or commit crimes and it is crucial to not only protect the company but also your clients and employees.

Most Human Resources departments will verify previous employment, education, and perform a criminal history check.  While these are great ways to evaluate a candidate, they are not always effective.  For instance, a healthcare employee who was hired without a background check being completed and ended up murdering two people who were in his care, or a four-year employee who was apprehended by the FBI for involvement in identity theft.  These are good examples of criminal behavior when improper background checks are not performed however, social media is also used to gain insight on potential employee’s personality and judgement.  When reviewing a candidate’s social media profile, some things employers have found are inappropriate photos or videos, drug use, and comments related to race or religion that are discriminatory.  Finding this information before hiring the candidate, can help the company avoid spending time and possibly money on corrective action or harassment issues.

Developing a formal social media policy within your organization as well as disclosing your social media research to candidates during the hiring process, is a strong practice to protect the company, clients, and current employees.  The following are some areas to consider when implementing social media research into the hiring process:

  • Disclose social media research policy to applicants and allow the applicant to confirm their profile is valid
  • Trained Security or Human Resources employees should be conducting the social media checks, not the hiring managers to avoid any possible liability
  • Do not force or persuade candidates to provide passwords which is prohibited in many states
  • Make sure to verify what is found on the social media site with the candidate for accuracy
  • Maintain a record of social media findings when declining a candidate for future legal action, if necessary

Social media is a major factor to consider in hiring the right candidate.  The number of employers that practice social media research during the hiring process has drastically increased over the last ten years.  Employers are digging deeper and finding out more about candidates than ever before to not only determine who is the right match for the job but as an overall protection strategy for the organization.

Article compiled by Nicole Flemmens, for additional information please email