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FTC-Approved Company Will Save Dirt from Your Facebook Profile for 7 Years

As reported by PC Magazine, June 20, 2011: We’ve all heard it a thousand times: be careful what you post on Facebook; it could come back to haunt you. Now Social Intelligence Corp., a startup that does background checks for companies via social media, has been given the go-ahead by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which last week concluded that the year-old company operates within the boundaries of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

So about that old bleary-eyed picture of you doing a keg stand flipping your middle finger to the camera that your college roommate posted? Maybe you begged him to delete it. Maybe the potentially damning photo was removed from Facebook. Maybe you’ve forgotten about it. But as Forbes reports, Social Intelligence Corp.’s memory isn’t exactly short term. If the company sees some dirt on you pop up on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or in the personals section of Craigslist, the company stores it in your file, where it will remain, ready to ruin potential job prospects for seven years. It will continue to build that file, too.

“We store records for up to seven years as long as those records haven’t been disputed,” Social Intelligence’s chief operating officer Geoffrey Andrews told Forbes. “If a record is disputed and changed then we delete the disputed record and store the new record when appropriate.”

Applicants have to sign a form that grants Social Intelligence permission to run background checks, and the company must inform an applicant if it has found a tidbit that has prevented the person from landing a job.

Forbes got its hands on a few reports Social Intelligence has made for reporters. One job applicant was indicated to be a racist for joining a Facebook group called “I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English. We are in the United States. Learn the language.” In another case, an applicant had a photo on a social media profile featuring “multiple guns and a sword.” Of course the job-seeker could simply delete the photo or leave the group, but considering Social Intelligence keeps the information for seven years, it might not make a difference.

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