Human Resources


Background Check Expert Tells SHRM Employers Should Be Careful with Social Media Screening

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Employers are ramping up their use of social media screening in 2019 but they must ensure that these searches protect the privacy of job applicants, according to a background check expert interviewed for an article – the first in a two-part series – from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

SHRM Article about Social Media Screening

In the article “3 Employment Screening Trends to Know Before You Hire in 2019,” SHRM Online Manager and Editor for Talent Acquisition Roy Maurer interviewed background check experts including Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

“Social media screening presents opportunities for recruiters to find candidates and to reduce risk but, at the same time, these searches can create a legal minefield of potential liability,” said Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a comprehensive guide to employment screening background checks.

Employers have shown increasing interest in the online presence of job candidates but must ensure that social media screening meets requirements of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the enforcement guidance set forth by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The FCRA promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information in background check reports and protects consumers from willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in those reports while the EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

Rosen said employers should avoid discovering too much information (TMI) on social media screening since job applicants can sue for discrimination if they believe they were not hired due to characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, or national origin protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The best way to reduce legal risks is to have a third-party vendor perform the social media screening instead of doing it in-house. Background check providers that perform social media screening must comply with the FCRA and produce accurate reports scrubbed of protected characteristics.

SHRM is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 300,000 members in more than 165 countries and has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management. To learn more, visit

The article “3 Employment Screening Trends to Know Before You Hire in 2019” – which also named continuous monitoring and hiring people with criminal records as trends – is at

Rosen was interviewed earlier by Maurer for another SHRM article after speaking the 2018 SHRM Talent Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada where he warned employers that using social media screening to hire job applicants could lead to “a world of privacy and discrimination problems.”

Rosen is scheduled to speak about criminal records at the SHRM 2019 Talent Conference & Exposition in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday, April 8, 2019. His session entitled “The Use of Criminal Records in Hiring: Land Mines and Opportunities for Employers” will take place from 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM local time.

Social media screening was also chosen as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019 that feature emerging and influential trends in the screening industry for the coming year. The complete list is at

ESR Offers Social Media Screening

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers social media screening services to help employers compliantly leverage social media as part of their recruiting and hiring processes. To learn more, 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 website is for educational purposes only.

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