How Embarrassing/Job-Threatening Facebook Photos Are Part Of Your Job Application

Kashmir Hill | Forbes

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission gave a stamp of approval to a background check company that screens job applicants based on their Internet photos and postings. The FTC determined that Social Intelligence Corp. was in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This means a search of what you’ve said or posted to Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/blogs and the Internet in general may become a standard part of background checks when you apply for a job.

No big deal, right? You already knew that employers were Googling you. I argued this was actually better, because Social Intelligence has to make sure its clients inform job applicants if they took adverse action based on something found on the Internet. That way you can delete and change privacy settings accordingly.

But there’s a wrinkle. If something job-threatening pops up on Facebook or Flickr or Craigslist in a search of you, Social Intelligence puts it into your file — and it stays there for seven years.

Update (6:47 p.m) — Social Intelligence has an important clarification: COO Geoffrey Andrews sent me a statement via email this evening explaining that negative findings are kept on file but are not reused when a new employer runs a check on you:

While we store information for up to seven years we do not “reuse” that information for new reports. Per our policies and obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we run new reports on applicants on each new search to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is utilized, and we store the information to maintain a verifiable chain-of-custody in-case the information is ever needed for legal reasons. We are not however building a “database” on individuals that will be evaluated each time they apply for a job and potentially could be used adversely even if they have cleaned up their profiles.

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