Social media is pervasive and powerful. Globally, more than 2 billion users are on social media networks. In India, more than 250 million people are expected to use social media by 2019 according to data from Statista. This is a huge increase from the current figures of 168 million. The number of active users per month on microblogging sites such as Twitter is a whopping 23 million! With 11% of the world’s Facebook users in India, the power and reach of social media networks is obvious. Millennials spend more than 80% of their time on social media networking, connecting or browsing. With easy access and availability of information, not to mention the visual appeal, social media is the go-to place for news and the most trusted source of information. Social media verification is now the buzz word, particularly for brands that engage in digital marketing and for celebrities.
Social Media background verification refers to the process of using social media for conducting background checks. This involves analysis of social media posts, information provided on profile and engagement on social media platforms to decipher an individual’s identity, profile and reputation Social media verification enables the building of trust and ensures the authenticity of the social media account.
Employers increasingly are turning to social media to conduct background checks. According to a study by CareerBuilder, 77% of companies that participated in the study used social media verification before hiring candidates. Close to 70% also conducted background verification on search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo before hiring candidates.
Employers expect candidates to have an online presence, and indeed this is a requirement for many roles. Another study showed that 60% of recruiters were not likely to invite a candidate for an interview if he or she does not have an online presence. Recruiters look for references and recommendations that are posted on social media professional sites such as LinkedIn. They also look at what others say or think about the prospective candidate and the number of followers.
Social media background verification has the benefits of providing added trust, security and authenticity. Having a verified social media account adds further credibility. This is particularly important for brands, celebrities or individuals who have a huge following. Social media verification helps prevent frauds, wrong representation or claims and ensures the reliability of information. Yet, it is easy to dress up or fake personal information on social media channels, which make it difficult to verify such information. The ease with which false profiles can be created means that there is lack of authenticity. Recent studies showed false news were retweeted faster and more often than authentic news! Facebook admitted recently that there were 270 million fake accounts on the platform. Close to 10% of the accounts were duplicates.
Employers now look at deeper levels of background verification through social media. Looking at social media can provide important clues on the candidate’s reputation, behaviour and also on extreme political affiliations if any. Resume frauds are quite common as numerous studies have shown. Social media verification can be an important aspect of a comprehensive background verification process to corroborate or confirm the findings in other checks. While social media information is still vulnerable to be fake and cannot be relied upon in isolation, social media background checks can be used in conjunction with background checks to profile a 360 degree image of an individual before hiring/partnering.
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