Social Intelligence Corp: Can it keep you from hiring a psychopath?

Last year a young and pretty female former co-worker at the Office of Senator Richard Gordon got in touch with me through Facebook chat.  Although I initially savored the idea that the conversation was going to be somewhat purely social, talk eventually turned to one particular facet of everyone’s life online: Will prospective employers Google her and use the information they find to decide on whether or not to hire her?

Being somewhat the office’s second default expert on all things online, I said “Yes. Of course.”

If someone else had asked me the same question before Facebook became one of the biggest social networking sites on the planet, my answer would have been “No. Not unless you’ve been involved in a crime or scandal that was published on an online newspaper, blog or forum.”  The reason for this is that online newspapers, blogs, and forums used to be the most likely ones to turn up a person’s name.  Moreover, the more common reason for a person’s name to turn up on Google search would be either because they’ve been very good or very, very bad.

These days, anyone who has ever Googled themselves will know that their Facebook profile (along with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google profile, etcetera) will invariably turn up in the first ten search results.  This can be both a boon and a bane, most especially now after a company got the nod of the US Federal Trade Commission to screen job applicants based on their Facebook and Twitter postings. [Read more…]