What is Social Media Screening?

Social media screening is a service that analyzes the applicant’s social media accounts. At Global Background Screening, this includes Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. 

What Does A Social Media Screening for Employment Show?

While some may think that Social Media is a relatively new concept – it has actually been around quite a while, with the first recorded social media site being debuted  in 1997.  Granted, it has progressed a lot over the  years  and now we are all very familiar with Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and so on. 

And as you can imagine – people post a lot of information on social media platforms – the good, the bad and the ugly!!  This is exactly why social media screening (as part of the background check)  has gained a lot of traction in recent years – giving a bird’s eye view into the way people think, act and much more. Employers overlooking this piece of information would be a massive mistake!

How far back can a Social Media Background Check Go?  

Social Media Screening generally goes by the same guidelines as the FCRA, but one of the main differences is the length of time you can go back and search  profiles.  In Social Media Screening – you can only go back 7 years.

Additionally - The only information that is able to be used is anything that could cause potential problems in the workplace, such as drug and alcohol use, violence, hate speech, sexually explicit or potentially illegal information, etc.  

An example of what can't be used would be marital status, sexual orientation, religious affiliations, Citizenship, Veteran Status, etc.  and these key words could not even be used in the search parameters.

What do Employers Look For on Social Media?

From our experience, employers tend to look for violence, racism, drug related comments, likes and groups you're following. Even though GBS has key metrics to search for the typical social media hate crimes, some employers will add additional keywords to the background checks.

Why Is Social Media Screening Good?

While background checks find what you've already been caught with, social media screening may provide enough red flags to indicate that the candidate may cause issues with current employees or the company as a whole.

How Do I Do a Social Media Background Check On Myself?

You can order a background check on yourself by "signing up" on the top right of our site. Reach out directly if you have any questions.

What Are the Guidelines for Social Media Screening?

A couple of the most popular questions that we are asked is “Is this legal?” and “How do you hack a locked account?”  and people are also curious about it really being a necessary search and often times think they can just do it themselves. 

So first of all, Yes, it is legal!  And GBS will never “hack” an account. 

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Must gain permission from the job candidates just like a typical background check.

  2. We can only pull public posts. This is probably the most asked about. So you can only view candidates social media posts if they are made public.

  3. Consumer Reporting Agencies cannot ask for passwords or create fake accounts in an attempt to get online access to the protected account. This actually violates numerous state privacy laws.

But remember,  the World Wide Web is never ending and it’s very rare that someone is totally undetectable!   But you do have to make sure that you do it correctly. 

 How to do a Social Media Search on yourself?

You might want to check all your social pages again to make sure the privacy settings are on!  It’s definitely worth taking another look to be sure.  Usually the first step in doing a social media search is a “Google” search.  It’s the best way to get a blanket look at what’s out there.  It would be wise to go through all your social media accounts and look at them as an employer would.  If your social media content is not where you think it should be - consider editing some of your data.

Should an Employer have a Social Media Policy?

Employers should  have a Social Media Screening policy that makes sense for their industry; definitely a disclosure to let the applicant know this will be standard protocol as part of the screening process and could possibly even be searched post-hire (or throughout the contract period).

GBS is in strict compliance with all state laws that govern the use of social media accounts in background screening. Our social media screening services use the best AI (Artificial Intelligence), but we also have human oversight to make sure everyone is compliant.  AI will scrape all the data that we have given it by certain keywords or phrases, but then we always have a quality assurance team review to make sure we have the right person and to go over the raw data before the customer receives the final report. 

Possible Risks of Social Media Screening for Employment

Hiring Managers Beware: you may have thought about the possible EEOC violations coming across an employee’s social media for pre employment. Apparently around 70% of employers do check media profiles using social media during the hiring process. This can cause serious legal issues.

For instance, when employers browse social media profiles, they may come across discriminatory information that may include:

  • Sexual orientation

  • Pregnancy

  • Dependents

  • Ethnicity/Race

  • Marital Status

That’s why it’s extremely important to work with a trusted consumer reporting agency like GBS. We make sure to filter any information that may cause your applicant to file a discriminatory claim on their background check. Learn more on the background verification process.

 You should also consider working with a background screening company such as Global Background Screening that can do all services for you in one-stop! 


Tracy Shatus, the CEO of Global Background Screening LLC has been in the background screening industry for 25+ years and is familiar with all laws, rules and regulations throughout the United States to help your company acquire the most accurate and up-to-date information out there. 

Global Background Screening offers a full suite of employment and tenant background screening options to enable companies to make the right hiring decision the first time!

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