Recent Posts


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Since many employers are using the Internet to recruit and screen jobs applicants, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a global provider of background checks, has released an update of its complimentary whitepaper ‘Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks’ to help them avoid legal risk online. The whitepaper is available for free download at

“Employers have discovered a treasure trove of information on potential job applicants by using social media sites,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR Founder and CEO and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ “However, the unrestricted use of social media background checks could well land an employer, human resources professional, or recruiter in hot water.  Just because it is online does not mean it is true or free of legal risks.”

The whitepaper provides an introduction for employers using social media background checks, the possible legal risks faced when conducting such screening, and potential solutions to avoid legal issues. Specifically, the white paper focuses on ten potential dangers employers may encounter when using social media background checks:

  • Too Much Information (TMI) Leading to Discrimination Allegations
  • Too Little Information (TLI)
  • Credibility, Accuracy & Authenticity Issues
  • “Computer Twins” & “Cyber-Slamming”
  • Privacy Issues in a Brave New Online World
  • Requiring Applicants to Provide Social Media Passwords
  • Legal Off-Duty Conduct
  • What is “Fair Game” on the Internet?  The Dangers of Pre-Texting and Social Engineering
  • Should Background Screening Firms Perform Social Media Background Checks?
  • Hurting Employer Brand

Employers are using social media more than ever to recruit and screen potential employees. A survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed 84 percent of organizations used social media to recruit in 2015, up from 56 percent in 2011. However, 36 percent of organizations rejected a job candidate because of “concerning information” found on a public social media profile.

The SHRM survey also found the most popular social media used to recruit job candidates in 2015 was LinkedIn (96 percent), followed by Facebook (66 percent), Twitter (53 percent), and professional or association social networking sites (35 percent). For using social media to screen job candidates in 2015, LinkedIn was the most popular choice of employers (93 percent) followed by Facebook (63 percent).

The 2015 Annual CareerBuilder Social Media Recruitment Survey found more than half of employers – 52 percent – used social media to research job candidates while more than one-third – 35 percent – were less likely to interview job candidates if they were unable to find information about them online. Nearly half of hiring managers – 48 percent – found information online that caused them not to hire a candidate that included:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs – 46 percent
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 40 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 34 percent
  • Poor communication skills – 30 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 29 percent

The survey also found almost one-third of hiring managers – 32 percent – found information online that caused them to hire a candidate that included:

  • Candidate’s background information supported job qualifications – 42 percent
  • Candidate’s personality came across as good fit with company culture – 38 percent
  • Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 38 percent
  • Candidate had great communication skills – 37 percent
  • Candidate was creative – 36 percent

The whitepaper defines social media as “forms of electronic communication such as Web sites for social networking and microblogging through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, messages, and other content such as videos.” Due to the growing popularity of social media, employers would be hard pressed to completely ignore information from popular social media websites such as:

  • Facebook – 1.44 billion active users as of March 2015
  • YouTube – More than 1 billion unique users visit each month
  • Google+ – 418 million active users as of December 2015
  • LinkedIn – More than 400 million acquired users as of October 2015
  • Twitter – 332 million active users as of January 2016
  • Tumblr – Hosts over 555 million monthly visitors as of January 2016
  • Instagram – Over 300 million active users as of December 2014
  • Flickr – 87 million registered members as of March 2013

(Statistics from

Rosen founded Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) in 1997 in the San Francisco, California area. He has authored several whitepapers and is a frequent speaker on due diligence and background check issues as part of the “ESR Speaks” background check training program. He was chairperson of the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), and served as first co-chair.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a leading global background check provider that enables employers to make informed hiring decisions quickly and easily. ESR is accredited by the NAPBS aabd undergoes yearly SOC 2 audits to protect the security, confidentiality, and privacy of the consumer information used for background checks. To learn more about ESR, please call toll free 888.999.4474 or visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.

1 Comment

Comments are closed.