A new background screening company that screens the social media profiles of job applicants and employees of companies that use the services has been making waves this week. The company, Social Intelligence, digs through publicly available data on social networks to answer questions that may worry an employer such as “if an employee were posting damaging social media content about your company, how would you know?” The FCRA has given the green light to the screening agency, and now any company who performs background checks has the option to utilize Social Intelligence to screen applicants, too.
Even though Social Intelligence is in compliance with the FCRA, it does not have to follow the same rules as they apply to background checks against consumer credit. While consumers are entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau every year, Social Intelligence is not required to provide a free copy of the social background report — or even a paid report — to consumers. Jim Andrews, Client Executive for Social Intelligence, explained that Social Intelligence is “not required or even able to provide reports unless an employer has previously ordered a report on the person inquiring as the criteria we look for is specifically defined by the employer.” He did note that an applicant can receive a free copy of the report after an employer orders one.
However, if you’re concerned about your social background, you may want to head on over to Reputation.com. Andrews explains that it “specialize[s] in protecting consumers.” I ran a free search to see what information was available for me online, and not only were none of the “people” me, but none of the addresses belonged to me, either. This is the only information available for “free,” so if you truly want to know what kind of data is available and searchable from your social profiles, you’ll have to pay for a subscription plan. For those who have yet to lock down their Facebook profiles or have said questionable things on other social profiles or blogs throughout the years, this could bee a good investment — especially just to be sure that Social Intelligence (which uses similar search mechanics) has nothing on you.
Are you worried about the kind of data a social background company like Social Intelligence can find about you? Will you use a company like Reputation.com to check your background — or do you think these background agencies are relatively harmless? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.