The government will start scanning Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts of federal employees and contractors applying and re-applying for security clearances.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed a directive last week allowing the inspection of social media profiles when reviewing applicants for federal background checks. While looking at someone's Instagram, Facebook or other profiles won't be required, it will now be a tool available when reviewing individuals for security clearances.

"The goal of our background investigations must be to find out if an individual is trustworthy. Back in the 1950s that meant talking to neighbors and family," said Rep. Mark Meadows at a hearing for the House subcommittee on government operations. "Today, with more than a billion individuals on Facebook, what a person says and does on social media can often give a better insight on who they really are," he said.

"Social media has become an integral — and very public — part of the fabric of most American's lives," Bill Evanina, director of ODNI's National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement. "We cannot afford to ignore this important open source in our effort to safeguard our secrets — and our nation's security."