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Background Checks

With the proliferation of social media on the Internet, more and more employers are using it to screen candidates for employment.  There are numerous pitfalls, however, to be aware of before relying on any information collected through an Internet social media search such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

The most serious limitation, it seems to me, is the difficulty of insuring that any information found via social media is about the candidate being considered for employment and not someone totally different!  Furthermore, how does an employer make sure that information found via social media is true?  Just to illustrate the scope of the problem, there are over 46,000 people named John Smith in this country!  There are also over 1,000 people in the U.S. named James Bond!  While these may seem like obscure examples, they really are just the tip of the iceberg of potential problems with social media searches.

There are other unresolved issues about using social media to gather information about a job applicant.  For example, whether or not using social media to help make a hiring decision amounts to an invasion of the applicant’s privacy has yet to be definitively established.  Another major issue is whether or not using social media gives an unsuccessful candidate a basis for a claim that the denial of employment was discriminatory.

Until these and other issues are definitively resolved, it’s probably very sound advice to urge employers to be very careful before delving into the world of Internet media searches to collect information about a candidate for employment.  At the very least employers should check with their lawyers before doing any information gathering via any social media for employment purposes!