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Social Intelligence Corporation Can Keep Your Social Trail for 7 Years

A new ruling by the Federal Trade Commission casts a doubt over just how lucky the number seven really is as companies such as Social Intelligence Corporation can keep an archive of your social media activities for seven years. The information stored is to be used explicitly for background checks but will be captured/achived even if you have deleted it from your account(s).

The number seven, aside from that astonishingly-acted, yet creepy-as-hell movie of the same name, has been linked with luck. Geez, they even sang about it Scholastic Rock. Ok, I’m showing my age now…

But now, thanks to this ruling, anything and everything you do on any social media network will be archived for potential future use by folks like potential employers or credit companies.

Now truth be told, there are limits to what a future employer can do with the information provided by companies like Social Intelligence Corporation. They must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act by informing candidates/credit applicants, etc. that they are performing a background check, must obtain their permission before doing so, and must tell the applicant about any damaging information they come across.

As to what exactly Social Intelligence Corporation looks for in a background check, the CEO of the company Max Drucker said they look for four types of content:

  • Racially insensitive remarks
  • Sexually explicit materials
  • Flagrant displays of weaponry
  • Other demonstrations of clearly illegal activity

According to Drucker, 5 to 10% of background checks flag at least one thing from the aforementioned types of content with the most common offending content coming in the form of sexually explicit pictures. He also said the offenders are more often younger, white-collar employees.

On the bright side, Social Intelligence Corporation can only see content you have made public, meaning if your Facebook page is only open to friends, they can’t and won’t see it.

And as for Twitter, they only review “recent” Tweets, whatever that means.

Of course there is the issue where someone else posts something of you, say a picture of you waving an Uzi around and tags you in that photo, well then you’ll have a problem.

Here’s an example of a report which Social Intelligence Corporation sent to a client. The person in question was flagged for their Oxycontin affection, shall we say, and for apparent support for legalizing marijuana.






















 The moral in ALL of this… ?

Well, one word: THINK. As in "think before you post, tweet, blog, share,"  YouTube, Flickr and on and on… Before you hit enter, think. “Is this something I really want the world to see and/or read?”

Or… just do whatever the hell you want and keep everything private… everything.

Sources: Why The Number Seven Just Got Unlucky For Social Media Users, Media Post,,

Join The Conversation

  • Sep 19 Posted 5 years ago NonRegistered (not verified)

    Hey guys, if you're going to run an article about a threat to privacy, you might want to do a slightly better job at blurring out personal info in your sample report.  It's obvious that report is about "parkerpdx", and if you do a search on that name you find his Facebook page.

  • Courtney Hunt's picture
    Jul 25 Posted 5 years ago Courtney Hunt


    I've written a blog post that provides more in-depth discussion of the practice of social screening, particularly by third-party firms. It's entitled "Social Screening of Job Candidates: Focusing on the Facts" and can be accessed via:
    Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community
    Principal, Renaissance Strategic Solutions

    I've written a new blog post that provides more in-depth discussion of the practice of social screening, particularly by third-party firms. It's entitled "Social Screening of Job Candidates: Focusing on the Facts" and can be accessed via:

    Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD - Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community


  • Jun 25 Posted 5 years ago metabrown (not verified)

    I certainly agree with your conclusions.

    The list of content searched doesn't seem in line with what I'd want in a background search. What's the definition of "sexually explicit?" Why aren't they searching for indications of unethical or otherwise destructive workplace behavior? Why search only for racially insensitive remarks but not signs of intolerance based on gender, religion, sexual preference, and so on?

    The example does not seem consistent with the list of content types searched. Supporting a change in the law is not illegal. If they are going to flag support for legalizing marijuana, will they also flag signs of support for all changes in the law, such as posts promoting prayer in the public schools?

    I'm not objecting to employers reviewing information that candidates have put in public, but if you're gonna do it, do it right.

  • Courtney Hunt's picture
    Jun 25 Posted 5 years ago Courtney Hunt "Can" isn't really the right word - it's "must." As a third-party background screening company, SI must keep records related to all searches they conduct in case of legal action. What that means is that if an employer conducts a background search on you as a prospective employee, SI must hold on to that data in an archive. It is not accessible by any other employer or for any other reason. So if another employer conducts a background check later, SI will conduct a fresh search. The FCRA rules are pretty strict, and are designed to protect individuals, and the FTC's recent action in this situation can generally be viewed positively. I'd be careful not to misrepresent it. For more of my thinking on social screening, including this recent development, check out

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