September 27, 2019 - Seattle, WA: A recent (but not so recent) trend we’ve been hearing about is the integration of automated tools (and third-party services) that locate applicant’s online presence. Specifically, tools and third party services that locate applicant’s social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) based on identifying information the applicant and investigator provide, such as; email address, name and location, and then present those profiles to background investigators for review.
A newer company started in 2017 who markets their software to law enforcement agencies for background checks recently wrote in a press release, ".... Not knowing what sort of social media activity an applicant may be engaged in represents a huge blind spot for law enforcement all across the country, and this powerful new technology eliminates that blind spot efficiently and cost-effectively. With (redacted company name) new digital screening service, which utilizes (redacted company name) patented AI technology, agencies can now objectively evaluate social media behaviors and uncover racist, bigoted and/or other toxic behaviors before they're a problem for the agency and the communities they serve."
Miller Mendel, Inc. has significant concern over the use of these technologies and services. The quoted statement above by the other software company ignores a major gap in the effectiveness of such service. Miller Mendel has opted to not include a feature/third party service in its eSOPH background investigation software to locate social media profiles of applicants for a variety of logical reasons:
- Many states have enacted laws restricting perspective employers from inquiring about social media activity of applicants. We expect that due to the popularity of privacy concerns that continue to develop around social media, these laws will continue to tighten and tie the hands of investigators on what social media activity can be reviewed and considered by perspective employers. History indicates abuse of technology and third-party services in this area will only accelerate further legislation to tie the hands of investigators. Miller Mendel does not wish to be a part of that.
In consideration of many aspects including CJIS, we also have concern that transmitting information applicants and investigators provide to a third party to “crawl the internet” for further personal data, is a liability exposure we do not wish to facilitate for our clients using eSOPH. eSOPH is designed to help our clients mitigate liability, not prompt it.
- No technology can legally obtain content set to “private”.
The technology can only locate what is public. The climate of privacy related to social media has changed dramatically over the last several years. Facebook was under fire for using information from its members and was also forced to give its members much better security control to ensure content within their social media profiles could be made private. As social media evolves, we fully expect what little information is “public” to transition more into “private”, which will render the "technology" and third party service even more ineffective than it arguably already is.
- Deleted content cannot usually be located.
Comments made by users on social media sites, or their entire social media profile is gone if deleted and not discoverable by the currently known technology.
When considering: the liability of such a feature, the fact that information set to private on social media profiles and deleted content is not discoverable by these available technologies, the value of such a feature/third party service is very little - to no value at all.
Such a feature would give the false impression that an investigator is obtaining some type of benefit to the investigation that they’re likely not. Combined with the fact these technologies/third party services generally would add cost to the investigation and result in little to no benefit, Miller Mendel has opted to not add this type of feature to our eSOPH background investigation software.
ABOUT MILLER MENDEL
Miller Mendel, Inc. (“MMI”) creates, sells and supports its software technology solutions for city, county, state and federal public safety agencies. MMI’s primary focus is to turn past practices used by city, county, state and federal government agencies into efficient and cost-effective electronic solutions.
MMI is known for creating category leading systems and providing responsive, exceptional support to all our clients. MMI places great pride in straightforward and transparent operational practices that foster a high level of respect and praise from our government clients.
MMI’s first and flagship service is eSOPH. eSOPH is a cloud-based software system designed specifically for public agencies who must process in-depth pre-employment background investigations on their applicants. eSOPH has been credited with cutting beyond half the time it takes to process a pre-employment background investigation, saving agencies many resources and allowing applicants to be hired quicker.
Selecting a Reputable & Stable Software Company.
Miller Mendel does not answer to any investor(s). MMI answers to its government clients. MMI's impeccable reputation since 2011 evidences this company value. MMI has operated debt free and profitable for multiple consistent years. These aspects are important for agencies to consider when selecting a pre-employment background investigations software company. When a company funded by private investors is unable to demonstrate consistent, profitable years through the eyes of its investors, that company is inherently at risk for going out of business.