Egypt, Twitter and your Employment Screening Program

Jason Morris

Over the past few years EmployeeScreenIQ has delivered white papers, articles and blog postings covering a myriad of topics, most notably, the use of Social Networking sites in the recruiting and employment screening process.  Like it or not, social media has become a very important part of our lives.  A few years ago, a conversation might end with “Are you on Facebook?” Today, that conversation might start with “I loved your Facebook post yesterday, and by the way, your grandmother had the funniest tweet last week!”  In today’s day and age, if you are not using or watching social media, you are not part of a whole new world.  Today, Facebook boasts over 500 Million users, over 50% of them login each and every day.  Twitter and Linked in are quickly gaining with over 100million and 50 Million users respectively.

Twitter alone has helped shaped the movement in Egypt.  According to Mashable:

Over the past several days, Twitter and other social media platforms have been flooded with links, images and information about the current political crisis in Egypt.

Social media intelligence firm Sysomos has analyzed a lot of the Egypt-related tweets and mined them for important cues, such as keywords and location data, that might show us just how news and information about Egypt are being disseminated via social media.

Twitter has been framed — by its founders, no less — as an important news-bearing medium in this any many other situations of global portent. Even while the service, and in fact, all Internet access, has been intermittently blocked in Egypt during the crisis, news, video clips and images continue to spread around Twitter with the greatest urgency. In fact, Google today launched a voice-to-Twitter service specifically to assist Egyptian Twitter users wishing to act as citizen journalists.

The Egyptian Government completely shut down access to Social Media Sites!

What does all of this have to do with human resources or employment screening?  Well, here is where I get creative and tie it all in.  Fortunately (Unfortunately) companies don’t have the same powers as Egypt.  The CEO of a company might have the power to block Twitter, Facebook Etc. from their own internal networks but have no power beyond their corporate domain.  Organizations really have no power to control what an employee says outside of the workplace.  Yes, companies can create policies limiting what employees can say about their job, employer, workplace etc., but these policies are untested in a court of law.  Recently the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken exception to some of these policies.  Furthermore, there have been several cases of employees being terminated for writing about their employers, getting fired and then suing them.  Employers are not Countries, they can’t got the Egyptian route and just shut off access altogether.  Right now it’s the Wild West, everyone is creating policies but no one knows how to enforce them, or control them.  One thing we do know is that using these sites for background screening could pose a major violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Various Social Media Privacy Policies, Wire Tapping Laws and a slew of other Federal Laws, some dating back decades before the Internet was invented…..by Al Gore!

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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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  • A good post on a particularly controversial topic – I like your comparisons to the revolts. It’s a thin line between employees having opinions outside the office, and saying things that are detrimental to your employer. I think that, ultimately, you can talk about your employers outside of work – of course you can – but it’s rather foolish to criticize them on the web. It’s so visible and the information is so easily available, that someone is going to come across your comments sooner or later.

    • Nick Fishman

      Agreed. I think of it as word of mouth on steroids. Most people wouldn’t criticize their employer to someone they knew would tell on them, but for some reason they think posting on the internet is safe.