Social Media Screening and the Federal Government

Confirmation has come from the Federal Government that Social Media history will be reviewed as a part of its pre-employment process for security clearance. Today we will be breaking down some key details about the new policy.

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the new policy will be adopted soon (no specific dates given) and will allow investigators to scan an applicant’s historic posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites.

Under the new policy, agencies can target publicly available information if deemed necessary, but the guidelines are clear that applicants will never be forced provide passwords for private accounts or any aliases/pseudonyms. In addition, all information gathered as part of the screening process will only be retained if the security status of the applicant would deem it “relevant.”

The belief behind the addition of this policy is that using social media can give a better picture of an applicant’s character and whether they can be trusted with confidential information. But the scope also goes farther, where in some cases the ODNI could permit agencies to search an applicant’s connections if there is any suspicion that could link to a national security concern, or if they could potentially become a target of blackmail. Details have not been provided as to the types of posts that could be categorized as “flagged.”

Privacy advocates who opposed the policy, which has been in debate for several years, have made it clear that they will be watching closely to see if the government will pursue any information protected as free speech.

Obviously, this is a very historic policy that is being put into place for our government. With the sheer scope of social media being used on a daily basis it does make sense to use it to get a better picture of an applicant, ESPECIALLY one with security clearances. However, given the vague language provided so far we will have to wait and see exactly what will be targeted.

Is your organization in need of Social Media screening services? Is your current screening policy compliant? We are available NOW to help!

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