More candidates giving their Facebook pages a “wash”

A new online application helps people find red flags on their social media pages, starting with Facebook, but is it a bad thing for HR?

More candidates giving their Facebook pages a “wash”

Most recruiters at least Google a candidate, but many are checking social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Now candidates are getting wise and are looking at ways to clean up their online presence.

A new free application for Facebook called SimpleWash alerts users to red flags on their profiles. From swear words to references to alcohol and drugs, the program prompts them to think about what employers might be looking for.

“[T]he internet never forgets,” the app’s homepage says. “You just lived your life and did your thing - and now, you've got the posts and pics to show it. But do you have the time and energy and robotic perfection to hunt down all those little details?”

By allowing access to their page, users get a list of posts that might be considered questionable to a professional image. Words like “beer”, “drunk” and “smoke” all get flagged, as well as swearing and other obscenities. The system is not perfect – this reporter’s post about Russian protest group Pussy Riot was flagged – it offers young people entering the job market a chance to put on a professional front as they start job hunting.

So far 120,000 people have checked their profiles, and the program will launch for Twitter soon.

Last year, employment lawyer Stuart Rudner told HRM it would be “negligent” of recruiters to ignore social media and the information they could gain from checking profiles and feeds. However, there were legal complications around discovering information that could lead to accusations of discrimination.

Even if the HR person had appropriate reasons for not hiring that person, the candidate could still accuse the hirer of making that decision based on knowledge of age, illness or background, Rudner says. Having another person do the research and prepare a report of only relevant information meant the company could prove that the decision maker did not have the details in question.

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