June 21, 2011, 12:24 PM — Last week, the FTC gave a thumbs up to a firm that scans social media sites and generates background checks that could keep you on the unemployment lines.
Social Intelligence Corporation joins the seemingly thousands of firms that do credit and criminal background checks for employers, only instead of unpaid student loans and DUIs they’re looking for oversexed Facebook photos and racist tweets.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Social Intelligence Corp. is generating a lot of controversy on the InterWebs this week, though it’s mostly from people who apparently don’t realize that employers have been doing this sort of thing for years on their own.
[ See also Me, Myself, and Google’s Me on the Web. ]
I thought it couldn’t hurt to dig in and find out what Social Intell really does, though, so I got in touch with CEO Max Drucker and asked him a few barbed questions.
Drucker, who admits to posting a few questionable Facebook items himself back in the day, says his firm doesn’t turn up anything you wouldn’t find in a comprehensive Google search. So why don’t companies just use Google and avoid paying you those fat fees? I asked. Because a Google search provides too much information, says Drucker. It can turn up things like your ethnicity, religious background, or sexual orientation – factors an employer can’t legally consider when hiring you.
Companies hire Social Intelligence to filter out that information. In fact, Drucker says his company only scans your Internet footprint for four things.
Racially insensitive remarks
Sexually explicit materials
Flagrant displays of weaponry
Other demonstrations of clearly illegal activity