Social Media Screening: A New Age Force to Reckon With

Being in the headlines is just a click away. Going viral is now a dialogue away. Your post, tweet or comment has the power to bring peace, also to the worst ignite another world war. Recently Ms Sacco’s tweet made controversies across newsrooms and netizens fumed with anger when she tweeted,Going to Africa. I hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white! while boarding a flight to South Africa. What happened next?

Social Media is transforming the ways employers work, search, screen, hire, investigate, evaluate, and terminate. The exponential rise of its potential users has resulted in 53.6% of the world’s population using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter-like platforms. (source: SHRM). At this rate, 100% is not too far – or is it?

The swift expansion of Social Media’s alliance with humans across occupations has made it ‘a necessary force to reckon with’. The winds of change also hit the shores of hiring processes where ‘social media screening’ is progressively influencing recruiters globally, driving organizations to embrace it as an essential tool for hiring. Selection of a fit and suitable candidate is a vital process for any employee dependent organization. Ambitious organizations have a cultural framework, a societal responsibility, and a value system. Their employees are also expected to adhere to these norms, standards, and beliefs which their employer is committed to. Because in today’s hyper-connected world, the employer is equally liable for their employee’s misconduct on social media globally. Therefore, social media screening has become a vital addition to background screening checks today.

Ms Sacco’s controversial tweet gained a lot of global attention especially from employers around the world. As a result, she got fired from her job not just because her statement was insensitive, discriminatory, and racist. But also, because the employer did not want to carry the baggage of their employee’s misconduct on social media to avoid legal and social backlashes.

2020 was the year of transition. Discovery of Covid-19, pandemic declaration, worldwide lockdown, remote working, and transformation of physical workplace has been the series of events ever since the virus knocked at our doors. Disconnect and distance between humans eliminated the process of in-person screening completely. The introduction of AI to screening has set the pace. Algorithms alone are not perfect, but an amalgamation of Human Intelligence & AI in screening would certainly make a difference in mitigating risks and improving accuracy in the process.

A well-educated candidate without any criminal records might still carry radical and polarizing views. Or could even be an online drug peddler. Who checks that?  Traditional background checks could be partially effective, but that could result in having another Ms Sacco. Combining different platforms to obtain the most detailed, accurate, and legitimate results could be time-consuming and nothing more than adding just another vendor. Now, where should you go? Integration could be a good choice, but one-single platform is better!

A solution where you can get both the goodness of traditional background checks as well as the magic of AI based social media screening would be a dream package for any recruiter. There are providers in the market who can help you with both customised background checks as well as social media screening in a single platform. A consolidated background screening platform could help HR professionals to make better decisions, fostering quick and efficient processes, screening applications seamlessly and above all ensure 100% compliance. It also helps with keeping turnaround time down and tracking results more effectively, thereby improving efficiency in the organization’s processes. Centralised background screening improves overall communication between candidates and recruiters. It also ensures consistent candidate & recruiter experience by centralising and standardizing global resources for all locations.

A candidate’s social media activities can provide an abundance of information about a person’s behavioural patterns both positive and negative. Conventional background checks cannot give the same insights about a person’s character. Social media screening can also help an employer identify several competencies that are  expected out of a candidate. The machine learning algorithms of AI-powered social media screening will help analyse social media posts, comments, replies, shares, and even extract & evaluate texts from memes.  Every individual has some beliefs, views, perspectives, and ideologies and that is completely normal. But an inclination towards extremism and polarization could cause repercussions.

Several risk factors identified and flagged can include:

  • hate speech,
  • toxic language,
  • politically radical statements,
  • religious polarizing opinions,
  • explicit and violent images,
  • self-harm,
  • threats of violence,
  • insults & bullying,
  • obscene language and
  • usage or promotion drugs/narcotics.

A Continuous Activity.

Should screening be just a one-time hiring activity?

Social Media Screening should continue as long as the employee is associated with your organization to avoid cases like that of Ms Sacco. It will let you know several valuable insights about your employees.

  1. How your employee speaks about others!
  2. Whether he is involved in an online drugs scandal.
  3. If they are threatening or bullying someone online etc.

A bad hire who is socially irresponsible could cost an employer millions. Avoiding such risks should be a top priority for organizations around the world. Continuous screening would ensure that your workplace is safe and secure with socially responsible employees.

Mitigating employee risks and eliminating social liability is a pressing need for many employers. Combining the power of AI with other background checks will essentially solve this problem that has existed for many years. As the industry moves to address the shifting perceptions of people, including applicants and employees, about social media using social media screening will potentially avoid jeopardizing the credibility and goodwill of the organization.


Sumit Sunil

Global Client Partner

Neeyamo Inc.

Neeyamo is one of the leading background checks providers in the world with presence in 200 countries. Its unique solution offers a wide range of checks and allows its customers to customize the package as per their needs. To further meet our customer’s needs, Neeyamo has partnered with Ferretly, a leading social media screening firm, to also provide our customers with AI-powered social media screening.

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