Part 2 - Using Social Media for Background Checks


Is social media a blessing or a curse? For employers and hiring managers…it’s sometimes hard to tell. Attorney Jonathan Segal, partner at Duane Morris says if used correctly, social media can be a very important part of your hiring procedure…






Wistia video thumbnail - Part 2 – Using Social Media For Background Checks

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Jonathan Segal// Attorney Duane Morris

I think we are twice in our life perfect- when we are born and when we interview. Not to suggest this will be a perfect interview! But people when they are interviewed put on their best face. So from Facebook you can sometimes find out who the person really is.

But 23 states have now passed laws on how employers are allowed to use social media. That’s a lot of laws-- it’s not always easy to figure out how to use it without getting sued!  Segal has a very specific list of steps to help you get the benefits without putting your company at risk.

Jonathan Segal// Attorney Duane Morris

You can mitigate the risk by, one- don’t ask for private passwords, number two only look at public profiles, three- make it later in the process so most of what could be a problem in terms of someone perceiving it as the basis for the decision, you already know.

Those dangerous issues are things like race, pregnancy, maybe even sexual orientation. It would be hard for someone to allege, for example, that you didn’t hire them because of their race if you have already brought them in for an interview- but if you disqualified them after just seeing them on Facebook, they might be able to make that argument.

Segal recommends you have someone in the HR department do the search because they know what kind of things they can legally consider, and what they can’t. He also says be cautious, print out the pages you look at, and if you hire a background screening company to do the social media check, be sure you disclose the fact that you are doing the screen and get proper authorization under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Jonathan Segal// Attorney Duane Morris

To me it’s not risk avoidance, it’s prudent risk, it’s balancing risk. Sometimes taking no risk can be the biggest risk of all.


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Jennifer Gladstone

Posted By: Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.