On Social Media Background Checks

I’ve been reading a lot about background checks lately (don’t ask why). I just realized that in some of the guest blogs I’ve done about writing and blogging, I’ve mentioned and warned about careless use of social media and how it may affect potential clients/employers. Come to think of it, it generally can affect most of us and our credibility.


What skeletons have you been hiding in your closet?

You never know who’s really looking at information and images you share publicly. Lately, while social media has helped personalities boost their reputation and following, some have actually ruined theirs by being absolutely careless, if not clueless. Others have lost jobs or opportunities this way. Meanwhile, you just never know anymore when your picture is ever going to end up as a meme, which can be fun at times, but as we all know, they can also be often downright insulting, and it’s suddenly for all the world to see, laugh at and make fun of.

But going back to jobs and opportunities (at what, that depends on the situation), it is now a reality that employers — and clients — may perform background checks to see what employing you can possibly bring to their company, especially what can possibly jeopardize their credibility and reputation due to hiring you. It’s all for prevention, you see, and very understandable.

Their HR people may do these themselves or they will hire other companies that will do legitimate background checks for them. The thing is, employee screening has now gone from coming up with the usual reports that may include your  educational background, court records, credit records, etcetera, to them checking out your personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts and activities. What they may see or read maybe the end of your chance to be hired; it may even spell termination if you are currently employed by them.

This is all one big issue. Is it legal? How is it legal? Isn’t that an invasion of privacy? How private is private? But if it’s public, how can that be an invasion of privacy? Do you have to share your login details? Would “shoulder-surfing” be okay?

So many things to consider here, folks. So let me share to you two links (they’re not written by me, BTW), just to share information. I hope you find them helpful as not just an employee but an employer. Read on 🙂

Social Media Background Checks: Where to Draw the Ethical Line

The Accuracy of Social Media


11 thoughts on “On Social Media Background Checks

  1. I’ve been staled before, and have had to remove my photos. But thankfully, it has stopped for a while now, so I’m back out in the open. I try to keep my tone chatty and friendly, but not really intimate.


    • Wow..I imagine the paranoia that accompanies the experience of being stalked.

      I think, in a way, I was stalked in the past, too, although I don’t really have proof or it didn’t progress to that. I’m just glad I didn’t have to have proof anymore. I just kept our contact to a miminum, the LEAST CONTACT EVER. I was scared he’d be able to find me considering our towns were just an hour away from each other.

      I think he had too great an ego so that when I told him to stop, it made him stop. Well, sort of, but I also sort of ignored him from then on so I’m just happy he’s moved on (though I hope not to stalk anyone else).


  2. Interesting to think about, as a fairly new blogger i have not had any concerns about cyber stalking. I do however have a very unique name so choose not to share it. I also try very hard not to share my children with the web ( they have plenty of time in their future to make their social media choices)


    • Hi, thanks for the Like and the Follow!

      Wise idea not to share your children that much. I used to work for a child-welfare NGO and one important thing stressed there is the right of a child to privacy also as you never know who is watching or looking at them. In fact, the policy is that if there is a need to have a child showed/interviewed on TV or in print, either his real name is mentioned but you blurr the face, or you show the face but give an alias.

      So sometimes, parents get carried away and share their kids in public and we know it’s just they love their children, so I just bite my tongue. A friend one time showed a pic of her stark-naked baby and I had to tell her to please delete. Of course it isn’t porn, but you can’t trust other people. It’s better to be careful than sorry. Plus, you don’t want your kid complaining to you when they get older, right?


  3. To be clear, I support background checks, and up to a certain legal extent, social media background checks as well. That is why I hope employers keep it legal and that they get respectable background check companies that won’t invade one’s right to privacy and, for their own protection, won’t land the employer into legal battles.


  4. Reading those reports almost begs the question as to whether I would want to work for anyone who determined worth based on social media comments. I think they do point our that the usual resumes offer more credibility than taking comments out of context because someone hired to do the job has gleaned bits of information without really building a whole or accurate picture. It’s a concern for potential and current employees that trivia could be used against them.
    I’ve read and heard of some true and scary stories where people have lost their jobs based on remarks made via FB, for example.
    Having said that, I decided a while ago to come out of the closet about my identity on my blog because, frankly, there is too much hypocrisy attached to perceived credentials. I think of how many politicians, for example, have hidden their truths only for them to come to light at a later time and the media to go wild. Not necessarily because the politician has done something truly awful or different from what many others do but because they said one thing and did another.
    I suppose we all have to decide whether we would rather have the truth as it stands in all its sometimes mess than a screened dishonesty that breeds more of the same.
    An interesting post JGi that has me thinking more on this subject. Dangerous territory in many ways but it is here with us to stay and needs more thought on how it impacts on our lives.


    • “Reading those reports almost begs the question as to whether I would want to work for anyone who determined worth based on social media comments.”

      Me, too. I do see how this can help in the selection process, but you never know how incompetent or totally biased themselves the people companies are hiring to check on you. Also, while companies are required to let you know that they will be looking at your public social media history, how can you be sure they’ll only be looking within the limits legally allowed them? It would only be obvious if they cite some reason that you know very well you have not made public. This is also why we should not just accept friend invitations from every one. What use is a privacy setting when you still make things available to people you hardly know or don’t even know?

      I have also made myself public…enough. It’s not just for employment reasons (I don’t even post too much in private either). I’m just wary of bad elements who may try to use personal information for unscrupulous purposes. I always try to weigh in stuff I share. If it’s not worth commenting on/posting and may even create something negative, nevermind, unless I really just want to drive a point.


  5. My other half regularly checks to see if his stuff has been pirated (it has), and I’m well aware that my online persona is there for EVERYONE to see. Sometimes I get a little weirded out, esp. when I can see on my dashboard that someone has been “cyber stalking” me. Of course, sometimes, it’s just curious and innocent people, but then again, it could be ex-boyfriends! NOOOO!

    I don’t know where we can draw the line because everything is pubic – let’s hope employers are people and can recognize and make moral and ethical judgments on their own.


    • Some of my stuff have been pirated as well. Either people do it intentionally despite knowing it’s wrong, or are just plain ignorant about IPRs. I tried to share what I could to protect copyrights.

      “Sometimes I get a little weirded out, esp. when I can see on my dashboard that someone has been ‘cyber stalking’ me.”

      It is sort of a price to pay for being public. So imagine if we become writers of celebrity status….This is why we should be careful always about what we post in the blogosphere. Ultimately, it is up to us.

      “I don’t know where we can draw the line”

      The employers are supposed to draw the line. The thing is, how can we, as potential employees (or even currently employed peeps), be sure they are going beyond the ethical line? We are supposed to be told what has prompted any rejection/termination. I wonder how we can be sure they are telling us exactly the reason.

      Some employers may even have the background check company to scour the Deep Web. I have tried to Google images for it and I saw quite scary stuff. of course, you have nothing to worry about if you’re not doing anything criminal or disturbing, but you never know what may be seen there and be misconstrued.


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