How Might the GDPR Affect Your Social Media Screening Policy?

  |      GDPR, Social Media Screening  |       |     Reading Time: 2 minutes

Several current news stories have highlighted social media screening for employees. Articles in the news have included celebrities, politicians and athletes being penalised for negative online activity, dating back to when they were minors or young adults.


This has brought to light questions around the rules applicable to social media screening when it comes to employees (in the public eye or not), and ultimately, how reputational risk can be avoided.


A fairly new professional service, this kind of background check can uncover data related to key risk indicators like violence, explicit and inappropriate content, discrimination and hate speech, illegal activities and more. There are also positive indicators such as charitable work and volunteering.


Potential issues with social media screening, as recently highlighted by the Association for Online Due Diligence (AFODD), are age-related. The association has highlighted two questions in relation to the age of consent (in respect to young people using social media):


  1. At what age does GDPR apply?
  2. Does the age of a post diminish its importance over time? This is more of a
    “reasonableness” issue.


AFODD references the GDPR Article 8, stating that under it:

  • EU member states are allowed to select their own age of consent, with a
    cap at 13 years of age.
  • The UK adopted 16 years as the age of consent.
  • A child refers to an individual under the age of 18.
  • A person who is 18 and over is an adult.


AFODD suggests that, within a Social Media Policy, HR should consider fairness, which is a cornerstone of the First Principle of GDPR. The Association suggests the following should be reviewed:

  • The age of the post.
  • The age of the person at that time.
  • A review of current posts to see if that view has changed over time.
  • A discussion with the Data Subject to ascertain their current belief.


If you are currently implementing Online Reputational Checks, or considering using this service, these considerations may affect the way in which you act upon the findings of candidate reports. Creating a Social Media Policy allows HR Professionals to benchmark their findings, and set rules of compliance for candidates/employees undergoing these particular background checks.


Our Social Media background checks, powered by Neotas, are fully GDPR compliant.


We review data associated to role-related risks only. Find out more about them here: Social Media Search & Screening Services | Vero Screening


If you have any questions about the service, reach out to our experts at intouch@veroscreening.com



About Jessica Veal

With 10 years’ experience within financial and professional services, both in the UK and abroad, Jessica looks after Marketing Communications here at Vero Screening. After initially gaining a degree in Marketing, Jessica’s career has spanned from campaigns strategy in-house and at agency level, to leading COVID-secure online events.