Will your social media habits impact future employment?
Your next job application could require a social media background check. Odds are, you have no clue what that means. Nobody does. It’s new and scary and probably scours the Web for pictures of you puking on the beach.
But screw speculation. We wanted to know. So Gizmodo ran background checks on six of their employees.
Here’s what they found, and why you should both freak out about and embrace it…
First, some context: In May, the FTC gave a company called Social Intelligence the green light to run background checks of your Internet and social media history. The media made a big hulabaloo out of the ruling. And it largely got two important facts wrong.
Contrary to initial reports, Social Intelligence doesn’t store seven years worth of your social data. Rather it looks at up to seven years of your history, and stores nothing.
The second was the idea that it was looking for boozy or embarrassing photos of you to pass along to your employer. In fact it screens for just a handful of things: aggressive or violent acts or assertions, unlawful activity, discriminatory activity (for example, making racist statements), and sexually explicit activity. And it doesn’t pass on identifiable photos of you at all. In other words, your drunken kegstand photos are probably fine as long as you’re not wearing a T-shirt with a swastika or naked from the waist down.
Basically, it just wants to know if you’re the kind of asshole who will cause legal hassles for an employer. Which brings us back to my report.
We ran background checks on six Gizmodo employees, including our editor in chief Joe Brown, and all but one came back clean. When it doesn’t find anything incriminating on a potential employee, it simply issues a notice that the employees passed (see below) and doesn’t generate a file.
And then there’s me. I flunked hard. When that happens, Social Intelligence creates a report, which it would then send to an employer. And if you don’t get a job because of your social media report, you can request a copy. Mine’s filled with delightful details, like “subject admits to use of cocaine as well as LSD,” and “subject references use of Ketamine.”
Basically, I may never work again.
Yet the report is fascinating to look at.