Social MediaSocial Media:

Facebook and many services like it are more than happy enough to gather your information and store it, all seemingly for free. They make this service free for the small price of targeted advertising, meaning that they develop profiles of each user and target ads towards those users based on their profiles. Ever post goes in to their algorithm and is factored in. It stands to reason that this information is therefor useful for other purposes, many of which may be surprising.

Exploitation of Intelligence:

Social media is a broad brushed term to describe the numerous services such as Facebook and Twitter that connect many users to each other.  However, to many organizations it also means useful business intelligence. Uses for this type of information include threat analysis, pattern analysis, even machine learning for automated intelligence. One company has found a profitable use for it, namely background checks. In an article from Sophos, a cyber security company, they detail a service called “Score Assured” which is an information scraping service that collects data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  Then Score Assured provides a comprehensive background expose on the individual being researched. The most important part of this service is the “Score Assured Rating” of that individual, which presumably determines an applicant’s employability.

Future Implications:

Many employers will already, on their own, google applicant’s names   and check various public records and other information, also known broadly as open source intelligence. There are differing laws among states and countries regarding whether job applicants can be subjected to various tests and whether they can be required to turn over website credentials, however employers could also choose not to consider an applicant if they choose not to submit their profiles to tests such as the one designed by Score Assured. Regardless, there are precautions that can be taken to limit how much information employers can gather.

Here’s a list of five best practices to use in social media profiles that limit what potential employers see:

  1. Google yourself and ensure that only profiles you want to be searchable can be viewed;
  2. Setup a Google Alert to email you when your own name appears in public forums;
  3. Review privacy policies on your profiles and limit who can see what aspects of your life as this is where most open source intelligence comes from;
  4. Delete or ask for the poster to remove unprofessional pictures or posts attached to your profile;
  5. Remember, NOTHING on any social media site should be considered totally private – be careful!

By Evan Fagan