Checking a job applicant’s social media profiles: is it allowed?

10 januari 2019

The dust seems to have settled and most organisations have become GDPR-proof. But the new privacy rules are more complex. Have you considered checking social media profiles at all?

In an earlier blog post, you read that screening a social media profile alone is not sufficient to screen a person. A variety of fake profiles on social media make it easy to get the wrong picture. Even so, it’s easy to do a quick profile scan on any social media channel. But did you know that it’s not allowed actually?

A lot has been said so far about the GDPR-law that went into effect in May of 2018. The privacy law ensures that organisations have an open and transparent way of dealing with any personal information they need to gather. In the first few months, there was quite a bit of commotion surrounding the new regulations and heavy sanctions were imposed on some companies that were not compliant with the new law. Now, about 8 months later, the dust seems to have settled and most organisations have become GDPR-proof. But the new privacy rules are more complex. Have you considered checking social media profiles at all?

Public social media profile

It sounds like a logical decision for you, or your HR-manager, to use social media to look up a job applicant. If you’re able to find a public social media profile, it’s easy enough to scroll through their public posts. Except that’s not as straightforward as it sounds.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (or Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) indicates in its report on Data Processing at Work (note: insert English link to report here) that employers theoretically aren’t permitted to check social media profiles. Even if the profile is set to public viewing, that information may not be used for professional purposes.

Screening a social media profile

Is it absolutely off limits to execute a social media screening? Not completely, but it’s only allowed when strictly necessary. The collection of personal data must always be justified, according to privacy watchdogs. That means that it’s incredibly important to clearly and transparently communicate when conducting a social media screening. One simple way to resolve the issue is to include in your job posting that you’ll be using social media as a part of the selection process. But even then it’s important to be aware of which information you include in the procedure.

DataChecker solutions

Social media can be a handy tool in terms of checking your (future) employee, but you have to treat this information in a secure manner. DataChecker has a variety of solutions to give you a clear picture of your negotiating partner, job applicant, or potential supplier. Through an ID check or the more elaborate Right to Wortk, you’ll be able to determine the true identity of your negotiating partner, job applicant, or potential supplier. Those solutions will keep you in compliance with all the governmental requirements. And they’ll give you peace of mind about the identity to use in your research on social media profiles.


Curious what DataChecker can do for you? Get in touch, and we’ll gladly walk you through the details!