Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. It is saving employers time and money across all industries. One area where AI is having a major impact is in recruiting and hiring to review public social media posts that may influence a manager’s hiring decision.

AI technologies scan individuals’ social media posts, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, and score or flag them based upon algorithms. The technology can scan the Internet for public posts in a short amount of time, saving Human Resources professionals and hiring managers from the manual process of looking up a prospective employee’s posts on the various social media platforms. Many employers and college athletic recruiters are already taking this step to weed out candidates. The technology then analyzes the tendency for the post to promote violence, racism, sexism, and bullying, just to name a few.  Some technologies score an individual’s tendencies toward certain behaviors, while other technologies present posts highlighting these traits for the hiring manager’s review.

What are employers’ legal obligations? A quickly growing number of states have social media privacy laws in place specifically barring an employer from requesting to view a potential employee’s private posts. There is also the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, an employer must have a permissible purpose for the search. If using an AI tool to scan a prospective employee’s social media posts and subsequently score or flag tendencies based on the AI technology, the candidate must first give permission and then be provided with a mechanism for disputing the report.

With predictive technologies, especially used in hiring decisions, comes questions about bias and control groups. Can AI pick up the emotions behind a post, such as sarcasm, or is it strictly looking at the text? Does it take into account the relationship between the people if a poster is putting something on social media geared towards a friend or group of friends? Individuals have expressed concern over these types of issues, while others argue that the technology is more objective than a single hiring manager doing a manual search with that own person’s biases coming into play. The technology is not only searching for negative tendencies. Some tools flag positive posts highlighting a trait in an individual that could prove valuable to an organization.

In summary, the pros of using this evolving AI technology to search social media posts includes more objectivity in screening and a reduction in manual search time by Human Resources and hiring managers, thereby cutting costs. The cons of the technology voiced in the industry is that the tools cannot evaluate the context of a standalone text and as a result, a post can be misconstrued and negatively impact a candidate’s chances of receiving a job.

What do you think? Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think about this new type of candidate screening tool.