Candidates’ Social Media History Gets More Scrutiny from Prospective Employers

Candidates’ Social Media History Gets More Scrutiny from Prospective Employers

In recent months, we have seen a series of controversies arise around the hiring of public figures in the media, sports, and entertainment industries after inflammatory comments they made on Twitter several years ago were brought to light. The Wall Street Journal explored the role of social media in recruiting through the lens of these stories earlier this month, noting that the vetting of candidates’ social media is increasingly common but still fairly new and less standardized than other forms of candidate screening.

Some of these controversies have led organizations to rescind job offers or terminate new hires on the basis of their old tweets, fueling extensive debate over whether these decisions chilled free speech, unfairly took people’s words out of context, or overreacted to flippant past remarks that did not necessarily reflect the person that candidate or new hire is today. In industries where talent has a public face, or in high-profile companies, employers are becoming more wary of what prospective hires have written on social media in the past, which anyone might dig up and use to damage their reputation and that of their employer.

In general, US companies are paying more attention to the social media histories of their prospective employees, not only in high-profile businesses like journalism and entertainment, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder:

Seventy percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates (on par with last year), while seven percent plan to start. And that review matters: Of those that do social research, 57 percent have found content that caused them not to hire candidates. …

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More Companies Identified in Lawsuit Over Age Targeting in Facebook Job Ads

More Companies Identified in Lawsuit Over Age Targeting in Facebook Job Ads

Last December, an investigative report by ProPublica and the New York Times, along with a lawsuit filed the same day by the Communications Workers of America, alleged that dozens of companies were discriminating against older job candidates by targeting their job ads on Facebook to users within specific age demographics, in what the plaintiffs in the suit say is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The companies mentioned in the report included Verizon, UPS, and State Farm, while the lawsuit initially named Amazon, T-Mobile, and Cox Media Group specifically, along with “hundreds of other large employers and employment agencies,” identified in the lawsuit as a defendant class.

In an amended complaint filed last week, the union named other individual companies it said were engaging in this allegedly discriminatory practice, including Capital One, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Ikea, and Facebook itself, along with several others. These companies are not named defendants in the suit, but are given as examples of large employers that have advertised jobs on Facebook and specified that these ads only be shown to users within a certain age range. The CWA also filed a complaint against Facebook with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January, and says it has filed similar complaints against dozens of employers, Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson reported on Tuesday.

Facebook and other companies have defended the practice of age-targeting social media ads, comparing it to running an ad in a magazine targeted toward younger or older people. Critics, however, reject this comparison, arguing that a person over the age of 45 can buy a copy of Teen Vogue if they wish, but cannot see a Facebook ad targeted specifically to users younger than them.

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Applicants for US Visas May Soon Have to Provide Social Media Handles

Applicants for US Visas May Soon Have to Provide Social Media Handles

In what looks like the Trump administration’s latest effort to tighten the US border by subjecting entrants to greater scrutiny, the State Department announced in the Federal Register on Friday that it was proposing to require that people seeking both immigrant and non-immigrant visas provide consular officials with additional information, including their social media accounts from the past five years, Ana Campoy reports at Quartz:

“This is an indirect way that the Trump administration is trying to limit immigration to the US that does not require for them to go to Congress,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell University, of the proposed rules.

The US had already been requesting social-media information from people suspected to represent a national security threat. That policy targeted a sliver of travelers to the US—about 65,000. The new measures would cover nearly 15 million people. Along with the handles, the State Department is also asking for a five-year history of email addresses, telephone numbers, and international trips.

The proposals must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget after a 60-day public comment period, so these new requirements will not come into effect until this summer at the earliest, but if they do, Campoy surmises, it may make some people think twice about traveling to the US. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement condemning the proposals as “ineffective and deeply problematic”:

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Facebook Expands Job Search Functionality to 40 More Countries

Facebook Expands Job Search Functionality to 40 More Countries

Facebook announced on Wednesday that its job search tool, which launched in the US and Canada about a year ago, is now available in over 40 countries. The expansion, which includes countries like the UK, France, Germany, and Spain, comes as part of the social media giant’s efforts to focus more on local issues, which in turn is part of its campaign to improve its reputation and regain public trust, Richard Nieva notes at Cnet:

The company retooled its iconic news feed to focus more on posts from friends and family, instead of viral videos and news. Part of the new ranking also includes a bigger focus on local news. For the job search tool, Facebook also put the emphasis on the local impact. “The jobs product is about local businesses connecting with people in their communities,” Gaurav Dosi, a Facebook product manager, said in an interview.

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine sees it becoming more of a “blue-collar LinkedIn”:

The Job posts rollout could help Facebook steal some of the $1.1 billion in revenue LinkedIn earned for Microsoft in Q4 2017. But the bigger opportunity is developing a similar business where companies pay to promote their job openings and land hires, but for lower-skilled local companies in industries like retail and food service.

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Former Tinder Employees Launch Mobile-First Professional Networking App

Former Tinder Employees Launch Mobile-First Professional Networking App

A group led by former Tinder CTO Ryan Ogle has launched Ripple, a mobile competitor to LinkedIn. Rather than try to match up with LinkedIn’s growing list of features, however, the new app is focused solely on networking and includes a number of interesting features.

For one, Ripple hopes to gain from its mobile capability is the opportunity to take advantage of proximity. Users will be able to find potential contacts nearby and also start networking events using the app. This new offering, which originated from an internal hackathon at Tinder and eventually spun off into its own company, will be able to draw information from your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles and also—perhaps controversially—allow you to take pictures of people using your smartphone and find their profiles.

Ripple will also employ the swipe function popularized by its dating app cousin, but Ogle insists that Tinder is a lot more than swiping and plans for Ripple to include more detailed profile information such as job history, education, etc. without going to a new screen.

“People have misconstrued why Tinder succeeded,” Ogle tells TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez. “Certainly, the swipe was interesting, engaging and fun. But the reasons why Tinder succeeded were far deeper than that. We thought a lot about the psychology of networking and the problems… what holds people back and prevents them from achieving what they want to achieve.”

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Blind: Coming Soon to an Employee’s Desktop Near You

Blind: Coming Soon to an Employee’s Desktop Near You

Blind, the anonymous workplace community app that bills itself as a “real-time Glassdoor” and has taken the tech sector by storm, is releasing a desktop version of its native mobile app this month, Joel Cheesman reported last week, citing an app update. The application, which claims hundreds of thousands of verified users including over 30,000 Microsoft employees and 16,000 at Amazon, allows users to chat, share information, and gossip anonymously with other people at their company, about their company.

Blind started out in South Korea in 2014 and came to Silicon Valley in 2015, where it has ignited a controversy over what anonymous forums mean for both employees and employers: Like Glassdoor, Blind is a place where employees can share information (not necessarily accurate) and express opinions (not necessarily positive) without what they say getting back to their employer, but also without that employer having much opportunity to present their side of the story. It has also raised questions about data privacy and security, though Blind assures users that it takes pains to encrypt and discard user data, so that nothing they write there can ever be traced back to them through digital fingerprints, and so that no personal data will be exposed in the event of a breach.

In any case, with the desktop move, Cheesman predicts Blind “will certainly introduce the app to a lot of people who hadn’t heard of it before.” That’s obviously the idea, anyway, as a fast-growing company like Blind naturally wants to expand its user base. Cheesman is skeptical, however, that Blind’s anonymous forum will survive:

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Facebook Testing CV Feature in Further Push Toward Recruiting

Facebook Testing CV Feature in Further Push Toward Recruiting

Since Facebook launched its new job listings feature earlier this year, the social media giant has made what looks like a play for LinkedIn’s share of the online job search and recruiting market. Since then, Facebook has integrated job listings into its Marketplace platform, revealed that it is testing location targeting for advertising, and has been playing around with a mentor/mentee matchmaking feature. The Next Web spots what could be the company’s next move in its evolution into a job search tool, reporting that Facebook is testing a résumé feature that lets users add more detail about their work experience to their profiles:

The new addition expands on the standard ‘Work and education’ section, but won’t publicly display all information about your credentials. The dedicated resume field lets you conveniently list your professional and educational background in more detail. It also allows selecting the precise dates when you started and left each undertaking that appears there. …

Interestingly, the screenshots indicate the detailed information will not readily show up on your public profile. This could mean that Facebook is considering making the hidden resume details available exclusively to job hunters and talent seekers. … As with any other test feat, there is no telling whether and when the functionality will make its way to all users.

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