The Pros and Cons of Social Media Background Checks

Social media checks can help throw light on toxic online behaviour. It can help create a safe work environment devoid of bullying, harassment, religious discrimination, and other harmful behaviours.

Employee background check is a critical part of the hiring process. But, should social media be brought into this equation?

Internet connectivity and smartphone penetration are increasing in India, spreading to Tier II and Tier III cities too. As of January 2022, there were 467 million social media users in India, which is 33.4% of the total population.

This represents a 4.2% annual growth in number of users. The average Indian spends 2 hours 36 minutes on these platforms, interacting with friends, browsing and sharing posts, commenting, liking, sharing posts, and uploading images.
social media background
social media background

Social media checks thus become a great way for companies to understand their prospective hires. It becomes possible to look for things not mentioned in the resume or spot any red flags in the candidate’s personality.

However, there are both pros and cons of social media background checks.


Spotting Violent Behavioural Trends

Social media checks can help throw light on toxic online behaviour. It can help create a safe work environment devoid of bullying, harassment, religious discrimination, and other harmful behaviours.

It is possible to look for bad habits like alcoholism as well. Rather, the hiring team can bring in workers who reflect the company’s values.

Faster and Convenient

It’s rather simple to track social media profiles and look at candidates’ social interactions. This could be a great way for the HR team to run a basic background check without hiring experts.

The Informal Lives of Workers

HR can spot hidden talents in workers’ profiles. Companies aiming towards boosting employee morale and productivity can take steps to hone these talents.

For instance, a company driver could be a good singer. A delivery partner could be a part-time teacher. Acknowledging these feats can make employees feel valued, and boost retention.

Verifying Professional Background

Although platforms like LinkedIn have a smaller database of blue-collar workers, it is possible to verify professional experiences in some cases. These profiles might also have references from past employers.


Invasion of Privacy

Social media background checks can be seen as an invasion of privacy and knowledge of personal matters. The information people share on these platforms is not meant to be used in the professional space.

There is a question about biases here. Once social media accounts are exposed, hirers will know about a person’s religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, and more. It may lead to the creation of unconscious bias and impact final decisions.

Unreliable Method

Social media interactions can’t be seen as an assurance of a person’s behaviour in the office. For instance, a candidate who doesn’t show toxic online behaviour is not necessarily a safe co-worker.

Similarly, angry exchanges between friends, inside jokes, and more can be misunderstood by the hirer. People create fake profiles all the time or falsify information. Overall, social media checks can be unreliable.

Inconsistent Information

Some candidates might be more active on social media than others. This creates an unlevel playing field for job seekers. A lack of consistent information about people seeking the same positions can hinder the hiring process.

Social Media Background Checks: Yes or No?

Social media background checks might be preferred by companies, but the information can’t be totally relied upon when making hiring decisions. There are other proven ways to conduct background checks such as:

  • Criminal background check
  • Reference checks
  • Employment checks
  • Education checks
  • Drug testing

BetterPlace automates the entire verification process, with one-click BGV initiation. With a data repository of 9000+ courts and 20 million+ workers, the platform enables comprehensive background verifications based on various parameters. The automated technology lets companies conduct 5 lakh checks per month. Contact us to learn more.

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