Seems a firm with the Orwellian title Social Intelligence (too bad Perfect Citizen was taken) is offering to sell to prospective employers an analysis of the social media history of employment candidates, as well as current employees.
The Schneier thread seems to be focusing (correctly) on the social and business impact of false positives. Having seen the The Social Network (good flick BTW) this weekend, it occurs to me that some of the brightest minds in the business world would have been summarily judged as unemployable if a sufficiently detailed pre-employment background investigation had been conducted.
On their own site Social Intelligence links to an HRM article expressing the importance of tapping into the social media as a powerful recruiting tool. Do modern businesses really want to hire Millennials who don't use social media? The Social Intelligence site makes much of the concern that employees waste time on Facebook when they should be working. Many employers simply block access to sites that waste business time or company bandwidth. Problem solved.
What about the risk to an employer if their pre-crime detection service that provides a false negative about the next Seung-Hui Cho? One supposes that will be addressed in 8 point legalese across a multi-page "can't touch us" terms of service disclaimer.
It should go without saying that pre-screening is only one step of an effective employee selection, training, development, and leadership process. Unfortunately, I fear the sorts of people who will be most attracted to the notion of pre-crime investigations are not the people who know that goes without saying.
There is a quaint cluelessness to Social Intelligence's marketing. On their Media and Events page they link to a half dozen articles, most of them skeptical, several down-right negative. So long as Max Drucker, the founder and CEO of Social Intelligence, gets quoted in the articles they treat it like good publicity. In Fast Company's article "Meet the Big Brother Screening Your Social Media for Employers" by Austin Carr, Drucker is asked whether he has applied his company's process to himself? "Well no, I'm CEO," he says, chuckling. "I created the company!"
I put a few questions to Social Intelligence via their Contact Sales page just now:
- How do you address responsibility to a client in the case of false negative finding?
- How do you detect information regarding candidates who use alias when posting in social media?
- Do you plan ever to sell candidates access to your service so prospective employees can determine what you will tell potential employers?
Updated 5 October 2010 To Add:
I received a prompt email reply from Social Intelligence this morning addressing the following questions:
How do you address responsibility to a client in the case of false negative finding?
We only furnish accurate reports that have met our strict review to ensure accuracy; however, in a case where an applicant disputes the results we do have a documented dispute resolution process.
How do you detect information regarding candidates who use alias when posting in social media?
Our system identifies aliases using triangulation based on the information provided to us by an employer.
Do you plan ever to sell candidates access to your service so prospective employees can determine what you will tell potential employers?
No, we do not offer a consumer product and do not plan on offering one in the future.