Security Enterprise Services

Social Network Searches Being Used Less for Background Checks

December 20, 2013

While a hot topic in past years has been the use of the internet to help with employee selection through social media background checks, it appears that this trend is fading fast, says Employment Screening ResourcesTop Ten Background Check Trends for 2014.

Why are social media background checks fading as a hiring tool? First, a number of states have passed or are considering laws that prohibit an employer from requiring a consumer social networking password, or to insist on “shoulder surfing,” meaning the applicant goes online and the employer examines a website site over the applicant’s shoulder, says ESR. A current list of social media password privacy legislation in the U.S. is available on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) website at

In addition, many applicants are taking much greater precaution to hide their social networking activities behind strong password protections as applicants have become more aware of the risk of employers finding negative information online, ESR says. "Smart applicants are using their cyber identities as marketing tools in their job hunt.  Also, many employers have discovered that searching for relevant material online is like looking for a very small needle in a very large haystack.  In addition, employers are concerned that discovering material online could lead to lawsuits for discrimination if the search reveals such things as age, ethnicity, medical conditions, religious affiliation, or similar information too early in the hiring process," ESR says.

Although some hiring managers may continue looking online for information about job candidate’s as an informal practice, it does not appear that large scale social media searches as a standard part of the hiring process has taken off, according to the report. A 2011 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found only approximately one-quarter (26 percent) of organizations used online search engines to screen job candidates during the hiring process while even fewer organizations (18 percent) used social networking sites, ESR notes. While employers have discovered a treasure trove of information about potential job applicants on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, ‘social media background checks’ have become controversial and can present legal risks that may include Too Much Information (TMI), “computer twins,” “cyber-slamming,” and issues with privacy, credibility, accuracy, and authenticity.

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – offers a complimentary white paper titled Managing the Risks of Using the Internet for Employment Screening Background Checks to minimize the risks of using the Internet for screening candidates. The complimentary whitepaper is available at  

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

security 2015 january cover

2015 January

In the January 2015 issue of Security, learn how PTZ and fixed dome cameras do dual duty in video production and surveillance applications, improve security on college campuses, and how to better cope with harsh environments in surveillance. 

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Tougher Cybersecurity Legislation

On January 20, President Barack Obama called for tougher cybersecurity legislation in his 2015 State of the Union address. Which of the following points do you feel is most needed today?
View Results Poll Archive


CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide
CompTIA's Security+ certification is a globally-recognized, vendor neutral exam that has helped over 60,000 IT professionals reach further and higher in their careers. The current Security+ exam (SY0-201) focuses more on being able to deal with security issues rather than just identifying them.
More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.