[B]Didn’t remember where the thread relating is, so i’ll post it here…[/B]
[B]How anything you’ve EVER said on the internet could be seen by employers as Feds approve firm that dishes dirt on applicants…[/B]
[B]Company keeps information on its records for SEVEN YEARS[/B]
[li][B]Uses special software to track down applicants’ online pseudonyms[/B][/li][li][B]Means social media postings will become regular part of job application process[/B][/li][li][B]Government rules company doesn’t breach regulations[/li][/B]
By Fiona Roberts
Last updated at 12:04 PM on 27th June 2011
It means anything you’ve ever said in public on sites including Facebook, Twitter and even Craigslist could be seen by your would-be employer.
The Washington-based commission has ruled the firm, Social Intelligence Corporation, complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act - even though it keeps the results of its searches on file for seven years.
Dishing the dirt: Social Intelligence Corporation performs background checks by scouring job applicants’ social media accounts
It raises the frightening prospect of any social media posting, even it’s years old or was meant as a joke, being used in background checks.
Applicants who use online pseudonyms aren’t safe, either - the firm uses special software to link those nicknames with real, offline names known to employers.
[li]Too big for Google? Rejected job applicant claims search engine discriminates against fat people[/li][li]The Kindle slayer? New ‘flipback’ book printed on wafer-thin Bible paper to take on high-tech competition[/li][/ul]
One applicant found himself out of the running for a job after being branded racist because he once joined a Facebook group called 'I shouldn’t have to press one for English. We are in the United States. Learn the language.'
Social Intelligence Corp scours everything from social networking sites, such as Facebook, to video and picture sharing websites as well as blogs and wikis.
Controversial: One applicant was turned down for a job after the firm discovered he had joined a group like this on Facebook and ruled he had ‘racist tendencies’
The company has defended its policy of keeping the searches on file, saying it’s for compliance reasons only.
[B][B]BIG BROTHER FEARS: SO WHERE DO THEY LOOK?[/B]
The firm searches any information which is publicly available online. It includes:
[li]Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter;[/li][li]Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn;[/li]
[li]Video and photo-sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube;[/li][li]Commercial sites such as eBay and Craigslist;[/li][li]Blogs and ‘wikis’.[/li][/ul]
It says the negative findings are not re-used if a new employer runs a check on an applicant.
Its chief operating officer, Geoffrey Andrews, said: 'We are not… building a “database” on individuals that will be evaluated each time they apply for a job and potentially could be used adversely even if they have cleaned up their profiles.'
One of the reports, released to Forbes magazine, flagged an applicant for ‘demonstrating potentially violent behaviour’ because he’d posted a photograph of him holding a gun on his Facebook account.
Another was flagged for ‘illegal activity’ after putting an advert on Craigslist searching for the drug Oxycontin.
So far the company says it has found ‘negative’ online postings in up to 20 per cent of applicants it’s been asked to investigate.
Background checks: Max Drucker, the firm’s CEO, argues the firm 's methods are fairer than if employers simply Google candidates, which can be discriminatory
Social Intelligence Corp. was founded a year ago, and soon afterwards the Federal Trade Commission began investigating over fears it could be in breach of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
[B][B]DISHING THE DIRT: SO WHAT DO THEY FIND?[/B]
According to Social Intelligence Corporation’s chief operating officer:
[li]20 per cent of candidates don’t appear on the internet at all;[/li][li]60 per cent have a neutral or positive online ‘footprint’;[/li][li]Up to 20 per cent of candidates have something ‘negative’ about them on the internet, especially when the pool is younger;[/li][li]That figure falls to around five per cent for younger candidates.[/li][/ul]
But the government has now dropped its inquiry, ruling the company is within the rules as long as it lets applicants know whether they failed to get a job as a result of the report.
It also changed the wording on it permission form - which all applicants must sign before the checks are carried out - to make sure they know exactly what will be checked during the review.
Social Intelligence Corp says its reports are fairer than if employers simply Google candidates.
The reports only take into account ‘job-threatening’ characteristics - such as criminal activity - and does not include personal information, such as sexuality or religion, which an employee legally cannot see.
Applicants can also dispute the report’s findings, and the offending record will be deleted if it is found to be incorrect.
Mr Andrews told Forbes: ‘I like to think we are providing a service not just by screening for employers, but in helping to protect job applicants by creating a standard process for online background checks and a service that presents them with reports on negative material.’