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Facebook Background Check: How Does it Work?

Michelle Wilson - July 28, 2022

Facebook Background Check: How Does it Work?

As social media use continues to climb over the years, it’s anticipated that more than 96% of Americans will be expected to embrace at least one social media platform by the year 2026. As more people continue to flock to social media, their behavior online is often followed by close friends and family. Unfortunately, for those looking for work, an applicant’s online behavior is a major determining factor in their fit to work within the organization.

Many employers are now integrating social media into the hiring process, including a social media screening during the background process. This screening helps mitigate risk and ultimately protects the company’s brand by identifying any concerning or risky behavior online.

Understanding Facebook’s Influence on Social Media

According to reports, the number of active Facebook users is 2.936 billion. Approximately 1.960 billion people log on to the social media platform daily, with an impressive 1 billion stories shared daily across various Facebook applications.

Facebook is considered the favorite social platform for 35-44 demographics, with Instagram (a META company) sitting in the top spot for audiences under 25. The average user will spend 19.6 hours a month on Facebook or approximately 33 minutes daily.

What are Social Media Background Checks

A third-party company performs the social media screening for a company, typically outside of individual research by the hiring manager or recruiter. The background check company uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret the individual’s likes, replies, comments, and posts. The screening will also review the images in each post to identify various risks from the categories. The company then compiles the results into a comprehensive report submitted to the organization. The report offers a detailed overview of any risk factors identified in an individual’s social media.

Why Perform Facebook Background Checks?

As Facebook is one of the most popular social media networks, uncovering relevant details that may negatively impact the company is an essential risk assessment. A careful review of all social media platforms for volunteer or employment purposes can identify risk factors such as hate speech, harmful political speech, threats of violence, extremism, bullying, or problematic keywords for the organization.

A Facebook background check can protect the company in the following ways:

Preventing the Cost Associated with a Bad Hire

Running a Facebook background check is one component of avoiding a bad hire, which can directly cost the organization money. If someone frequently engages in bullying, hate speech, or other risk factors online, it will likely influence their behavior at work. This behavior will likely contribute to toxic work environments, posing long-term problems for staff, customers, and owners alike.

Protecting the Organization’s Brand and Image

Social media activity will always impact the organization, even if they’re not directly attached to the issue. For example, someone participating in problematic behavior online will always trace back to the employer. As a result, there can be backlash toward the employer. There continue to be many examples of individuals who have lost their jobs because of online activity. A Facebook background check will evaluate the probability of such issues happening on the job.

Protecting the brand also includes partnering with various public figures or influencers to promote products, services, or the company overall. Whether working with a celebrity or athlete, preventing social media activity from negatively impacting your organization is essential.

Developing a Comprehensive View of the Candidate

The standard background check will often consist of employment verifications, references, criminal history, and credit evaluations. The review looks at a broad spectrum of the candidate’s past but is a critical component for screening potential volunteers or employees. Adding a social media screening to the evaluation can build a complete understanding of applicants before they start working. It also provides a picture of the current behavior of online activity, which might influence the culture of the company or work ethic.

What Red Flags Show During a Social Media Background Check?

During the Facebook background check, pieces of information may come to light that influences an employee’s connectivity with the business. These apparent red flags may not directly impact someone’s capacity to perform the job but may put the employer off. These may include posts with excessive foul language, extreme political opinions, or pictures of excessive partying.

Red flags often come up during a social media background check, with a few items needing to be taken seriously. These online activities include:

  • Unlawful activity (including underage drinking, drug use, or criminal actions)
  • Sexist or racist comments
  • Aggressive or violent behavior (including stalking or trolling)
  • Sexually suggestive or explicit material
  • Confidential or sensitive information

Many respectful, responsible, or well-informed workers tend not to have such information posted during a social media background check, especially on popular social media networks like Facebook.

What are the Benefits of Facebook Background Checks to Employers?

Benefits of the screening process include several aspects:

  • Identify information that supports an individual’s resume claims (past work or volunteer experience)
  • Save time and energy speaking with an applicant’s professional and personal references
  • Uncover a potential employee’s professional endorsements and business network
  • Recognize an applicant’s potential risks or red flags online
  • Reduce employee complaints, turnover, and disciplinary actions

Should an Employer Perform an Internal Facebook Background Check?

An employer may choose to do internal screening as well as pre-employment ones. Despite the potential benefits of internal checks, the process does hold considerable risk. Should an employer comb through all social media interactions, there’s a chance they may purposely or accidentally violate personal freedoms and discrimination laws.

Discrimination claims are also a clear risk when internal social media checks are performed. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is clear – all employees or applicants are protected from employment discrimination based on sex, color, religion, national origin, or race. When an employer chooses to learn more about a person’s personal information, the company opens itself up to potential lawsuits.

Finally, the perception of employers reviewing an employee’s personal life doesn’t sit well with many people. Many individuals feel judged, burdened, irritated, untrusted, or even censored. An employee may wonder whether the actions or disciplinary measures were based on interests, likes, photos, friends, or public posts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t sit well for mutual loyalty, trust, and respect.


A Facebook background check isn’t an uncommon approach to hiring processes, especially as the world shifts to a more technological realm. Employers can screen against potential red flags early in the hiring process by carefully reviewing a potential applicant’s social media activity. As a result, many employers can sort through the applicants to find individuals best suited for the position, skills, and work environment.

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