As our social media reports gain traction in the online screening industry, our clients often come to us with this question: how do I adjudicate a social media report?
It’s a fair question--social media screening is still new, and that in of itself raises a whole new set of logistical and legal questions. The good news is that adjudication for social media screening functions similarly to criminal background screening. After ten years of working with clients to train them in the social media screening process, we’ve learned that adjudication really boils down to three easy pathways: no action needed, adverse action, and more information needed.
No Action Needed
This is the easy part: the vast majority of our reports come back clean, meaning less work for you! While this at first may feel suspicious, we like to think of this as a positive sign. The best criminal background report is a clean report, and the same can be said of a social media report! No news is good news.
“But what if I want to see more of their content? Can I still do that?” Unfortunately, viewing more revealing content could open you up to discrimination claims, which is why Social Intel has a policy of only reporting potentially problematic business-related behavior. We protect your candidate’s privacy as much as possible, but we’re also here to protect you from making biased hiring decisions!
A clean report could mean two things. It could mean your candidate is as squeaky-clean as they appear. On the other hand, it could indicate that your candidate cares enough to put up privacy settings to delineate clear work-life boundaries. While that’s no guarantee that no potentially negative behavior took place, it still demonstrates the candidate’s potential to bring their best, most professional selves to the workplace--and leave everything else at the door (or, shall we say, behind a privacy wall).
Occasionally a report comes back with some flagged content, and what you do with it depends on the severity of the content. In this case, one possible avenue is to start by measuring the flagged behavior against your Code of Conduct. If the offending piece of content is a clear violation of your company values, social media policy, or established behavioral expectations, then adverse action could be a viable option. For example, perhaps report comes back with a series of violent or threatening posts for a candidate that would be working with a vulnerable population. Those pieces of content could be considered a violation of both the Code of Conduct as well as disqualifying for the particular position, which may be decent grounds for adverse action.
More Information Needed
Oftentimes, the red flags that do show up on reports are for pieces of content that may not quite clearly violate your Code of Conduct but are significant enough to raise an eyebrow. The easiest pathway forward may be to obtain more information--namely, talking to your candidate and checking professional references.
For example, say a report comes back with a flag for a racist Facebook post from several years ago. If, upon speaking with their professional references, it appears that the candidate has a history of intolerance, then you could revert to adverse action provided that intolerance is coded into your Code of Conduct. However, if upon speaking to a former supervisor you learn that the candidate has since grown and has worked well with the people of color on their team, you might conclude that the candidate’s beliefs have evolved and proceed with the hiring process.
Otherwise, if professional references do not provide any additional insight on the subject, the best way forward may be to simply sit down with the candidate and talk candidly about the content that concerns you. Remember, they already gave consent, so using the report as a touchpoint is a fair way to keep the conversation focused and business-related. While discussing flagged content might feel awkward, your hiring manager can use these conversations as “teachable moments” to come alongside candidates and foster a healthy environment for positive growth, using your Code of Conduct as their guide.
Still unsure with how to move forward with a policy? Social Intel provides free adjudication training to all of its clients.