Department of Defense Examines Implementation of Social Media Screening

Due Diligence

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) – America’s largest government agency – “is examining a scalable means of implementing social media screening in conjunction with background investigations” in an effort to prevent extremist behavior in military ranks, according to a training document from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The idea to implement social media screening during background investigations appears in a “Leadership Stand-Down to Address Extremism in the Force” from the Office of the Secretary of Defense that addresses checking social media belonging to service members, civilian DoD employees, and prospective recruits.

On February 5, 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed unit commanders and supervisors at all levels to conduct a leadership “stand down” within 60 days to address the issues of extremist ideology because the DoD was “seeing an increase in concerning behavior” related to extremist groups, the training document stated.

“The vast majority of the men and women in the United States military and those who serve the Department of Defense as civilian employees… do not support racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists, including white supremacists, and other domestic terrorists such as anti-government violent extremists,” the DoD stated.

“However, recent events have shown that we must be ever vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat such ideology within the ranks and organizations,” the DoD added in the document dated February 26, 2021. “Actively espousing ideologies that encourage discrimination, hate, and harassment against others will not be tolerated.”

Consent for obtaining “publicly available social media information” is provided when Service members and DoD civilian employees submit their Personnel Security Questionnaire (SF-86) to initiate background investigations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) currently screens social media for extremism and criminal activity.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was named the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – offers social media screening solutions that can be a valuable part of any background screening program. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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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