Ben Mones, chief executive of social media filtering startup Fama Technologies Inc., said hiring managers in today’s workplaces are increasingly wary of what potential employees may publish online.
“We’ve all seen the ‘fired for racist tweet’ headlines,” Mones said. “If you just Google, you’ll see a litany of stories over the years.”
Fama provides its clients with digital tools that allow them to filter public social media accounts associated with a potential hire. Using language processing and image recognition technology, Fama’s software identifies particularly volatile content, such as posts containing racial slurs or online bullying.
“It’s not a score on an individual, or a thumbs up or a thumbs down,” Mones said. “Instead, we allow customers to say, ‘Hey, I need to know all the references to threats, intolerance, harassment that this person has posted online.’ And we enable them to incorporate this information into their talent selection process.”
Employer surveys suggest that demand is high for this type of service. According to a 2018 report by online recruiting firm CareerBuilder, around 70% of employers say they use social media sites to research potential employees before making an offer. Nearly 60% of employers who screen candidates’ social media accounts said they discovered content that convinced them not to hire someone, according to the same survey.
When Fama launched in 2015, Mones said many companies had already started reviewing the online activity of job applicants, although most were doing this process manually.
Not only is this process slow, Mones said, but it can give people making hiring decisions access to information that could unfairly bias them against a candidate.
“If you’re a hiring manager and you see someone is pregnant or disabled when you run this check, you’ve seen something you’re not supposed to see,” Mones said.
Fama’s technology, which can be integrated into background checks provided by established operators such as HireRight and Sterling Infosystems Inc., scans public messages, flagging items based on search parameters set by customers.