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What is social media screening and how is it done?

What is social media screening?

So, you are one of the 4.66 billion people to have at least one active social media account. You share your thoughts, ideas, good times, and bad times on your various accounts. You acknowledge that your social media accounts are a representation of who you are, your personal brand, especially in the 21st century. Then what business do potential employers have screening your social media accounts and what are they looking for, or looking at?

Easy, in an increasingly socially conscious and connected world, social media screening assists employers to objectively evaluate your social media conduct and see whether or not you will be a productive/supportive member of a team and fit in with the company’s culture and value system.

Here is how social media screening works:

  • When you apply for a new job, your potential employer will get you to sign a consent form – the purpose of which is to outline what will be done with your personal information and what background checks will be run (in compliance with the POPI Act and GDPR legislation).
  • The information that you have provided in the consent form will be used to run various background checks on you such as – criminal checks, credit checks and in some cases, social and digital media screening.
  • The social media screening company will use all the information, that you have provided, to accurately identify and match your various social media accounts.
  • All information that is gathered and evaluated, from your accounts, can be found in the public domain – which means that it is information that is publicly available and can be freely accessed – in compliance with the POPI Act and GDPR. Social media screening companies cannot hack your accounts or send you a friend request.
  • This is what separates Farosian from the competition – Farosian categorizes all the information (found in the public domain) into positive, negative and neutral content.
    • This is done by evaluating what content you are matched to or interact with (your likes, shares, posts, retweets, tags and mentions etc.)
  • Once all the information is categorized, Farosian then objectively evaluates all the content and includes the relevant information in a report (which is then shared with your potential employer).

Key considerations:

  • All content is evaluated according to international and local laws. For example, in South Africa, we have the Hate Speech Bill which outlines 17 categories that are considered hate speech, if you have content that does not comply with this law it will be included in the report as negative content.
  • Other laws that dictate what content can and cannot be included are, The Films and Publications Act, The Labour Relations law, Employment Equity Act and The Constitution of South Africa.
  • Protected information such as your; religion, race, gender, political affiliation, and other identifying criteria are not included in the reports, unless they infringe on the human rights of an individual – as outlined in The Constitution of South Africa, the Employment Equity Act and The Hate Speech Bill.
  • Freedom of Speech is an important factor to consider when screening social media. Everybody has the freedom of speech and the freedom to share their ideas. However, if those ideas infringe on the human rights of an individual, then it is no longer considered freedom of speech, but instead hate speech, and such instances (by law) need to be reported on.
  • Not only negative content is included in the reports. An objective evaluation of your social media conduct will include positive content as well. This content includes’ industry/work related content, positive/motivational content, supportive content etc. Farosian prides itself on considering the whole of an individual, and therefore puts a huge emphasis on identifying positive traits which can in-fact assist candidates with landing the job.

So now that we know what social and digital data screening is, and how it works, we need to understand why it’s done, and how it can benefit companies. Some of the benefits for HR departments include:


  • High risk employees
  • Internal culture matches
  • Social/digital trends in high performance business units
  • Potential high performing individuals


  • Retention & productivity
  • Diversity & inclusion initiatives


  • Disciplinary records & customer complaints

Some of the ways in which social and digital data screening benefits recruitment include:

  • Identifying high quality candidates quicker
  • Making more 1st time quality hires
  • Reducing company legal liability – Employment Equity Act 1998
  • Protecting brand reputation by identifying high risk individuals
  • Reducing the cost per hire
  • Reducing the ‘time to fill position’
  • Creating a more inclusive internal working environment

In short, social media screening is a controlled and regulated service that must comply with a variety of laws. It is important to note that in an ever growing socially conscious and an increasingly connected world that our conduct on social media is being observed more than ever and that we have to acknowledge that our behaviour on social media is linked very closely to our personal brand.

So, how do you want the world to view you?

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