Social Media Screening ― More Effective Than Conventional Methods?
By Stephen Shepherd, Marketing –
I remember when “Facebook stalking” was socially unacceptable. You’ve probably done it yourself, whether you’re comfortable publically admitting it or not. A few colleagues told me that they got over the initial weirdness of looking through other’s personal profile information and endless photo albums by thinking, “Well, if you post it on the internet, you’re giving me (and really the whole rest of the world) permission to look at it!”
Posting a Guide to Yourself
Our activity on social media reveals a lot about who we are. Posts, pictures and comments found on our profiles provide a convenient outline of our communication skills, attitudes towards others, and the people with whom we associate.
Many employers understand this and take advantage of it to screen prospective employees during the hiring process. The government is planning a similar course of action.
A New Screening Tool in National Security
The Enhanced Security Clearance Act of 2014 (HR 5482) was proposed to prevent “nefarious characters” from obtaining US government employment, specifically in positions that require classification. The bill was inspired by criminals that miraculously and embarrassingly succeeded in passing security clearances and then caused tragedies or committed treason, such as Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis.
Some argue that the government should simply become more transparent and reduce the need for classification. Given that transparency is apparently not an option, lawmakers introduced HR 5482 in an initiative to revamp the conventional screening process, which is proving to be outdated and lacking in effectiveness.
The security act would allow the government to perform social media screening as part of the security clearance process by accessing “publicly available online electronic information, including blogs, micro blogs, forums, news web sites, picture and video sharing web sites, posts or comments,” on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Flickr.
Better Than the Original?
Could social media screening be more effective than the conventional method? It would clearly not be an alternative, but rather a valuable complement to the existing system.
They say a picture says a thousand words. While perhaps Facebook stalking people could help decide if they can be trusted with classified information, it’s undoubtedly too early to dispense with background checks and lie detectors.