Internet Background Checks
Most employers will ask you to submit to a background check. No news there. Criminal backgrounds checks prior to employment are expected and come as no surprise to clinicians. What may surprise you is the increasing addition of "Internet" or "social media" background checks. What does that mean? It means that a potential employer could be gathering information about you via the Internet.
How do they do it? The simplest and most common practice is to simply "Google" your name. Anyone can do this; it's quick and it's free. In theory, it can be done without your permission since Google doesn't require the user to register or sign in before conducting a search.
On the other end of the spectrum, an employer might hire a company to conduct these "Internet background checks." Since the FTC has ruled that such checks are legal we are now seeing companies that specialize in this service sprouting up like weeds. These companies go beyond basic Google searches. As I said, anyone with basic computer skills can use a search engine. Instead, they dig deeper to find information on the internet that the average person couldn't find.
The good news is that the employer is still not allowed to use the information they find in ways that are prohibited by law. Any employer or any companies that the employer might hire to do the check on their behalf ARE bound by the same rules that apply to standard background checks. For one thing, the information they gather must be public information, just as the information on standard background checks must be information that is accessible to the public. They also can't obtain the information in a fraudulent manner. In other words they can't pretend to be someone else or lie about who they are to gain access to your information.To put it even more simply, they can't create a phony Facebook account and then "friend" you. They also can't use any of the information they have gained in a manner that is discriminatory or prohibited by law. This refers to information gained about race, gender, age, religion or other "protected status" classes. For example, if they find a picture of you at your church, synagogue or mosque on your Facebook page, they can't use that information to deny you a job. However, if you are seen wearing a T-shirt with profanity written on it they might be within their rights to pass you up.
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