Social media usage has continued to rise over the years, but even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. By the year 2026, more than 96% of Canadians are expected to embrace social media. With more people using social media platforms, their behaviour online can be a determining factor as to whether an individual is the right fit to work with your organization. There are many employers using social media for hiring purposes and including social media screening as part of your background check process can help mitigate risk and protect your brand by finding risky or concerning online activity.
What is Social Media Screening?
Using a third party for social media screening is different than having the hiring manager or recruiter do their own search of the candidate’s social media accounts. Background check companies use artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze an individual’s likes, comments, replies, posts as well as the images included in each post in order to identify risks from various categories. All results are presented back to the organization in a comprehensive report, allowing for a detailed overview of any risk factors identified in the individual’s social media activity.
Why do Social Media Checks?
An individual’s activity online can be an indication of whether they might negatively impact your organization’s brand or put employees or customers at risk. A social media background check for employment or volunteer purposes will identify risk factors in categories such as hate speech, threats of violence, harmful political speech, extremism, or bullying, along with specific keywords custom to your organization.
- Prevent the Cost of a Bad Hire
Running a social media background check in Canada is one component of avoiding a bad hire, which can be costly to your organization. If someone is participating in hate speech, bullying or other risk factors online, this is likely to impact their behaviour at work and can contribute to a toxic work environment.
- Protect your Organization’s Brand
Social media activity can also reflect poorly on an organization. When someone is participating in problematic online behaviour, and consumers discover where they work, there can be backlash towards their employer. There have been many examples of individuals who have lost their jobs because of their activity online, including these 14 Canadians.
Protecting your brand also applies when partnering with an influencer or public figure to help promote your organization. Whether it is an athlete or a celebrity, you want to prevent any of their social media activity from having a negative impact on your brand.
- More Comprehensive View of the Candidate
A background check that consists of criminal record checks, employment verifications, references and other searches that are checking a candidate’s past, are an important part of screening potential employees or volunteers. Adding social media screening can give amore complete understanding of individuals before they start working. It gives an overall picture of current behaviour of the candidate, which could impact their work or the culture of the company.
Why Outsource Social Media Background Checks?
Social media background checks are sometimes said to be invasions of privacy. People often ask, does a social media background check find deleted accounts? When using a background screening vendor, the candidate provides consent and only publicly available information is searched. Private or deleted profiles are not discovered during the search.
According to a CareerBuilder study, 7 in 10 employers admit to checking a candidate’s social media presence as part of the hiring process. Although this seems easy to do as an organization, there are various reasons why it’s important to use a third-party.
- Ensure Compliance
Using a third party to complete the social media background check ensures that you are remaining compliant with all Federal and Provincial privacy laws. It also keeps your background screening fair and objective, as every candidate is checked against the same risk factors.
- Remove Bias
When doing a social media search in-house, you will see information about the candidate that should not be used as part of the hiring decision. Their race, religion, age, and other characteristics can be present on their social media search or found out based on their posts, likes and comments. When using a vendor, the results remove any reference to content that could be used to discriminate against someone, thus avoiding potential complaints of social media hiring discrimination and reducing unconscious bias.
- Save Time
Rather than having someone spend hours trying to find all of the candidate’s social media profiles, and searching through their activity manually, companies that specialize in background checks use a combination of artificial intelligence(AI) and individuals to complete the searches quickly. A comprehensive report of all of the candidate’s concerning likes, comments and posts is provided, showing their activity on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and others. This can save recruiters and hiring managers significant time, allowing them to focus on other important HR tasks and speed up the hiring process.
- Avoid Fake Profiles
With the increase in fake social media accounts, it is more difficult for you to confirm that the profile you are checking actually belongs to the candidate. Background check vendors authenticate the candidate’s profiles using multiple data points, ensuring the results are a match to your candidate.
There are many reasons that organizations should not only conduct pre-employment social media screening but also why these searches should be outsourced to a third-party background check vendor. It can give you an idea of how they might treat other people, and therefore how they would impact the culture of those they are working or volunteering with. By conducing social media screening for employment or volunteer purposes, an organization can prevent harmful behaviour before it turns into a workplace concern.
For more information on what to look for when selecting a background check provider, this checklist has 6 specific tips.
If you’d like more information about social media checks offered by ScreeningCanada, reach out to one of our product experts here.