Social Media Background Checks - Legal Right To Privacy?

Your social media life represents you more and more every day in employment, legal battles, and more.

A company called Social Intelligence Corp. has just been given permission by the FTC to sell social media background checks. Employers can use the service to vet candidates applying for a job.

The reports flag pictures and other information from your online presence if they show potential for violence, racist tendencies, or other problems. The file can last up to seven years; but the FTC says it is not a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Social Intelligence Corp. claims that they will create a new report for each new search in order to keep it up-to-date and accurate. They also claim that they will not include any information that has been removed since the last report.

What does this mean for you?

It means you should always be incredibly careful with the information you post online. Even with strong privacy settings, you may regret certain photos or comments down the road. And while the reports will not include anything that has been removed from the internet, it can be very difficult to remove certain comments and posts permanently, even when you think you have.

Over time, reports like the one approved for Social Intelligence Corp. will most likely lead to new laws similar to those for credit reports. Then you will hopefully have the ability to view and dispute your report or make changes as necessary.

In the meantime, if you are concerned about your online reputation, make sure your privacy settings are set correctly, and take precautions to watch your words and actions in public online spaces:

  • blog entries
  • comments everywhere - on articles and blog posts, status updates, photos, videos, etc.
  • video services like YouTube
  • Twitter - remember, unless it's a direct message, your Tweets are public and stored permanently in the Library of Congress
  • anywhere else you give your name or e-mail address in order to comment or upload information


If you have questions about your legal rights, we'd be glad to help. Contact us today to talk with one of our attorneys at no cost to you.

Posted by Darrell Castle at 12:29 PM
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