Protests & the Rise of Social Media Screening

2 min read
Fri, May 17, 2024

Social media screening has become increasingly popular among employers seeking to make better-informed hiring decisions. Reviewing candidates' posts can offer valuable insights into their character and online behavior and identify candidates who align with company values and culture. It can also provide an analysis of communication skills, professionalism, and judgment.

With the continued protests on college campuses, should employers consider social media screening when hiring?


What Employers Learn With Social Media Screening

Social media can provide more information about a potential new hire than in candidates' resumes and job interviews. When a candidate shares posts related to protesting, a hiring manager can determine whether the candidate fits with the company's culture and values. Should employers consider it?

First, employers must be cautious about making decisions based on certain characteristics, such as race, religion, or political affiliation, which can be revealed through social media profiles and are protected by the EEOC. There is also the risk of misinterpreting information or jumping to conclusions based on limited context.

Social media screening can easily create a bias toward candidates who are more active on social media platforms, potentially excluding or promoting less active individuals online. Additionally, candidates may feel their privacy is invaded if their social media accounts are reviewed.

See also: Tips for Updating Your Social Media Policy

Legal Considerations for Social Media Screening

As mentioned, employers must comply with federal and state laws regarding discrimination, privacy, and fair hiring practices. They also have the option to establish clear policies and guidelines for social media screening and ensure that all screening is conducted consistently and fairly.

Just as with other background checks, employers should obtain consent from candidates before accessing their social media profiles and consider using a third-party screening service to minimize the risk of unconscious bias.

These policies should also be reviewed when considering employee termination for their social media practices. 

Best Practices for Implementing Social Media Screening

To effectively implement social media screening, employers should establish a comprehensive screening policy that is communicated to all stakeholders. Hiring managers should clearly define the criteria and specific information they seek in a candidate's social media presence.

It's more valuable to conduct social media screening at a consistent stage of the hiring process, such as after initial interviews, to ensure fairness. Employers should document and maintain records of all social media screening activities to demonstrate compliance with legal requirements. 

Regularly reviewing and updating the screening policy based on legal and industry developments is also recommended.

See also: Does Your Organization Welcome Activism?

Protests and Company Culture

With regard to the increased focus on social media for ethical considerations and company culture, it's significant to determine whether or not your company welcomes activism. As the song goes, the times, they are a-changin'. With that change, things will be shaken up and people are speaking out, louder than ever. 

Employers will need to adapt and be upfront about company values. It makes more sense to overlook a candidate who does not align with the organization's mission statement. Either way, if social media reveals anything, hiring managers must ensure responsible and fair use of it during the hiring process.

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