Social media and pre-employment screening
Social media searches often highlight potential issues and suitability risks not evident from a candidate’s CV.
Social media due diligence could assist companies to identify adverse or negative content in respect of prospective employees. This could not only spare potential embarrassment and reputational risk, but also save costs, time and effort of appointing someone who may need replacing shortly after.
Social media searches involve the scanning of an individual’s online profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc) as well as media and web blogs to identify any potentially adverse content or references.
Sometimes these searches may be limited due to the individual’s privacy settings; however, even comments made on blogs and websites leave a footprint and can potentially be identified.
We were recently instructed by an international client to conduct due diligence on an individual, Mr J, who was proposed to be appointed to the Board of a public listed company. On his disclosure form Mr J stated he was a director of a construction company. However, searches of his Facebook and Twitter account identified links to a support group for a prominent controversial political figure, Mr. P.
Further investigation identified an alias for Mr J that led our investigators to the discovery he was in actual fact the head of security of Mr P, his so-called association with the construction company merely being a smokescreen. No PEP list contained any reference to Mr J’s political connection to Mr P. If it wasn’t for the enhanced due diligence into Mr J’s social media profile, this would not have been discovered.
Social media searches need to be conducted with care and with regard to an individual’s privacy. However, information obtained from these searches could be instrumental in deciding whether a candidate poses any risk to your company’s internal operation or external reputation.
Due diligence is a very complex and challenging undertaking. A thorough background check into senior executives and new hires should entail rigorous interrogation and analysis of information gathered from a range of open sources, such as: subscribed databases; press articles; company registries; court searches; public records and documents; reference checks; employment and education verifications, as well as social media platforms. It is critical to identify all the possible risks, as the additional cost for the supplementary phases is minimal compared to the possible losses incurred from a bad business decision.