The Alpharetta police and fire departments are checking applicants’ Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
A representative for Alpharetta police told Channel 2’s Diana Davis they’ve launched social media investigations as part of the application process to make sure there are no potentially embarrassing or legally troubling posts from potential employees.
Alpharetta police spokesman George Gordon said what applicants post on social media sites may come back to haunt them, “Things that are derogatory, applicants that have biases against ethnicities.”
Gordon said police began the deep background checks Jan. 1 for all future applicants, but the department gives full disclosure to job applicants.
“We don’t ask for the password, but they must disclose the account and open the account for viewing when they are with the background investigator,” Gordon said.
Gordon said long-time employees have been put on notice they may also be checked. He said they would normally look for anything that could cause embarrassment for the department or possible legal trouble down the road.
“They'll post video of themselves shooting multiple weapons at a range, talking about wanting to be a police officer real bad. That's a red flag for us,” Gordon said of prior applicants.
Facebook said it may sue any employer requesting password or log-in information. Two United States senators, New York’s Chuck Schummer and Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate if employer requests for social media passwords is a violation of federal law.
"Polygraph and medical screenings give factual data about applicants, but by checking into social media websites we get a true understanding of what the applicant thinks or feels. That's every important for hiring future applicants into the public safety profession," Gordon said.