Over 25 billion people are active on social media. Given the popularity of these platforms, HR professionals are increasingly using them to conduct background checks on potential employees. The practice, however, raises questions about ethics, the role of unconscious bias and risk mitigation.
In a recent webinar discussing the role social media plays in background checks, I spoke with experts, whose media activity screening solutions are leveraging automation and artificial intelligence to be at the forefront of the industry. In a lively discussion, we covered the topic of checking social media activity, market trends, and best practices for customizing search parameters. The presentation raised many questions that this article aims to answer.
What are social media searches for?
Social media searches fill in gaps that go unnoticed in traditional background checks. According to Statista, 25 billion out of 38 billion Americans actively use the Internet. Millennials and the generation that follows them occupy an increasingly important part of the labor market. However, members of this demographic have forged an online life and identity from an early age. For them, social networks offer more than just a pastime.
What information can be obtained when performing a social media activity check? In short, the research finds public evidence of online behaviors that do not reflect the values and culture of the employer. The goal is not to pass judgment, but to become aware of certain troubling activities with the help of a private firm.
Checking social media activity is an ideal way to assess candidates’ suitability for acting as brand ambassadors. During the search, an artificial intelligence employs language processing and image recognition tools to assess the presence and frequency of risky behaviors on social media and on the Internet in general, according to a predetermined list. At the conclusion of the investigation, a report puts these behaviors in context.
Omitting this search is risky, especially for well-known brands. In June 2021, Google fired Kamau Bobb, its Chief Diversity Officer, when a blog post in which he made anti-Semitic remarks resurfaced. As Google enjoys high notoriety, the episode attracted a lot of attention from the media and social networks. With a little more due diligence, the company could have easily avoided the incident.
Other recent incidents worth highlighting include the British cricketer who posted offensive comments on Twitter and the supporters who stormed the United States Capitol in January 2021 and whose identity was revealed by detectives following investigations carried out on social networks.
First, a standardized process should be put in place. The same policy and the same keywords should be used for all people search for a position in order to place them on an equal footing. It is essential for the employer to make a personalized list of the terms they deem relevant, whether they are words related to drug use, extremism, racism, hatred or other problematic topics. Keywords should be personalized according to the company and position sought translated into both languages.
Second, it is important to note that the goal is not necessarily to determine whether the targeted person should be hired or fired, but rather to identify behaviors and content that could harm the reputation of the employer. The distinction is important. In some cases, the information uncovered by social media searches may, while not being alarming in itself, corroborate other damaging information from other investigations that have been carried out as part of the recruitment. For example, a reference interview might reveal that the targeted candidate sometimes displayed a sexist attitude towards his female colleagues, which would be supported by the litany of misogynistic remarks he had posted on Twitter. In short, checking social media activity provides a good overview of the personality of candidates and how they might represent their employer. When research uncovers similar information about an employee, the employer can take the opportunity to remind them of the company’s culture, values and policy regarding the use of social networks.
Recruitment will never cease to be a primarily human activity. Although social media searches can provide relevant information, it is up to the employer to assess the outcome of the investigation and make a decision. The purpose of social media research is not to separate the wheat from the chaff, but to provide food for thought on the integrity and brand awareness of the people being surveyed.
What does the report contain?
The social media search report contains texts and images that the target person’s public profile has liked, posted or broadcast. It is possible to customize the report and filter the data it contains. Candidates who are searched often have privacy concerns. It is for this reason that it is necessary to take into account the context and the relevance of the information. By only seeking relevant information, warning candidates that they will be searched, and allowing individuals to challenge the results of investigations they have been subjected to, the employer is already addressing the right to privacy of his candidates with more consideration than if he himself studied their profile on social networks.
Soul Zhang Lu: Address the Unsatisfied Social Demands with Soul App
Recently, a social networking platform named Soul App rose in the market and soon won the attention of Gen Z. As a matter, its prevalence is by no means an overnight success. Dating back to 2016, Zhang Lu founder and CEO of Soul App, developed this social product with her team. Soul App, originally a product designed to address the underlying social needs of modern people, is now a platform where 9.3 million users immerse themselves in the joy brought by social life.
During an interview, Zhang Lu clarified the long-held misconception about social networking products. She pointed out that the term social networking is abstract and obscured by misapprehensions. For the majority of the public, IM (instant message) social products represented by WhatsApp may be simply tools for communicating with acquaintances from real life while a social networking product like Soul App is a platform for forming new relationships with strangers. It seems that the core value of social life lies in fostering connections among different individuals.
Is the purpose of human social interaction really so singular? Is it true that all social life ends at the same destination? Zhang Lu questioned herself and the public. She believes that embracing social life and entering a new social circle is not necessarily limited to seeking new relationships. The possibility of being introduced to new worlds and enjoying a sense of identity, belonging and security that comes with social interaction are the authentic demands of social life. She envisions Soul App as a virtual social networking platform where people can interact with each other, and exchange common interests. It is essentially a product about exploring the diversity of social life. Forging a new relationship also matters but it is not the ultimate goal.
Distinct from its competitors, Soul App stands for a new kind of social networking. The deep logic of Soul App is based on its AI-based recommendation algorithm and interest profiling techniques. To direct its users to compatible souls, the AI would portray users based on their interests and analyze their behavior to calculate the matching degree between two individuals and then decide whether forward their personal pages to another user. Soul App’s novel social models are necessarily established on its gamified interactions. In this platform, users dress in personalized virtual avatars to communicate with each other and they are willing to pay for those virtual products. Statistics show that 93.9% of Soul App’s revenue comes from value-added services represented by customizing avatars.
What makes Soul App truly unique is its high technology but what captures the hearts of users is its ability to foster a sense of belonging. In this platform, users are attracted to each other by similar interests and they express and exchange their opinions from a higher dimension. In this way, they reform their identities and build consensus with each other. Ultimately, they find a sense of belonging in a community full of like-minded souls. As a matter of fact, this also tells the story of the birth of the Soul App.
Following the torchlight enlightened by Zhang Lu, Soul App has evolved into a prosperous ecosystem that features a high rate of interaction. Users are highly active on this platform. New posts and private chats keep surging day by day, most of which are contributed by 87% of its monthly active users. And it is estimated that every daily active user opens this app at least 21 times and spends an average of 45.3 minutes on this platform. The number of average point-to-point messages of DAU is basically the highest among its competitors, amounting to 65.9.
It might be a consensus among developers of social products that there is no defined answer to what makes a social product. In the earliest stages, giants like Facebook successfully immigrated existing social circles to the Internet. Shortly after its rise, social media like Instagram and Twitter prevailed. These platforms nurtured the birth of the first KOLs and influencers. Previously, TikTok went viral and soon captured the hearts of young people while the pandemic boosted the craze for metaverse and encouraged the hype for apps like Roblox and Soul App. However, what can be answered for sure is that these are products that touch the core of socializing and address the real demands of modern social life.
Zhang Lu had never meant Soul App to be such a success when the idea of developing a social product to address unsatisfied social needs stroke her. Yet, we can conclude from the interview that the success of Soul App cannot be an incidence. Zhang Lu was prudent in deciding the direction in which Soul App should proceed and she was confident that she will ultimately lead SOUL to this destination step by step. This may explain why she is leading the path in the track of social metaverse with her Soul App.
Check Activities on Instagram
Afterward, be sure to follow the users whose activities you intend to view. So, click on the magnifying glass symbol at the bottom, type the name of the account you are interested in in the appropriate field and select the relevant suggestion. If you see Follow Already on the profile screen for that account, you do not need to do anything else. Otherwise, instead, you have to click on the Follow button. For more details, refer to my guide on how to follow people on Instagram.
After putting the above steps into practice, click on the heart -shaped icon located in the lower right part of the window, select the Followed tab located at the top and you will finally be able to view the activities of the users you follow on Instagram, such as agreed, “likes”, comments left under photos etc.
I also point out that, in correspondence with each activity, you can find indicated how long ago this was carried out (eg2m,1h,second etc.). For more information on this, you can consult my tutorial on how to see the “likes” of others on Instagram. As regards, however, the possibility of viewing the activity status of a user, keep in mind that you can only obtain this information if you have previously exchanged private messages or if the latter has mentioned you in one of his stories.
Having said that, go to the Home screen of Instagram, by clicking on the symbol of the house at the bottom, click on the button in the shape of a paper airplane located at the top right and check what is reported next to the name of the user of your interest (e.g Active now , Active 2 h ago etc.). For more details, I recommend reading my guide on how to see the last login on Instagram.In addition to this, as I have just indicated, you can view the activities related to your account using the Web version of Instagram: to do so, visit the relevant Internet page, log in to your account (if necessary) and first click on the little man symbol. At the top right and then on the gear icon, which you always find at the top.
If the user whose activity you are interested in viewing has blocked you or has set their profile as private, unfortunately you will not be able to view the information in question. Do you want to view Instagram activity tracker from your PC? You can also do this: to do this, first go to the screen related to your profile, by clicking on the little man symbol that you find in the lower right part of the window, then click on the gear icon , located at the top.
At this point, select the words Posts you like, in the left sidebar (corresponding to the Account section), and in the right part of the Instagram window you will be able to view previews of all the posts you have “liked”.
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