Somebody's Watching Me!?!


Think that naughty Dave Chappelle tweet from 6 years ago that you Liked can't come back to bite you in the ass?

Well, think again. Fama is a company working hard to reveal social media behavior to employers making hiring decisions. Yup, background checks look a lot different today than they did 10 years ago, and the boys have some hard questions for CEO and Founder Ben Mones.

NEXXT keeps fueling the Chad & Cheese hits. Check out how NEXXT can help you more effectively target the right candidates today!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:

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Jamis Ellis:

Employer brand isn't something you sprinkle on your recruiting like magic fairy pixie dust to kind of make it better. It is both a craft and a calling. If that's the kind of work you want to do with your employer brand, come join me, James Ellis, at the talent cast.

Announcer:

Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Bottle up boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Joel:

It's that time again. What's up folks? You're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your co-host, Joel Cheesman.

Chad:

And I'm Chad “Just-Got-Flagged” Sowash.

Joel:

Oh shit. Red flags everywhere on the episode. We are happy to introduce Ben "He Made Her" Mones from Fama.io. Ben is CEO and founder of the company. Ben, welcome to HR's most dangerous podcast.

Sound Effect :

Hell yeah.

Ben:

Thank you Chad and Joel. Pleasure to be here. Appreciate you guys bringing me on.

Joel:

Right on. You are a brave man. Good for you. Chad, get him!

Chad:

You heard the podcast where we talked about Fama. Joe Rogan, which is pretty awesome because a few people listen to his podcast, he called out...

Ben:

Just a couple, all right.

Chad:

Yeah, he called out Fama, he called out an actual situation that happened and a person was sharing some of the Fama reports that their company sent to them on Twitter. I mean, that was a triggering event.

Joel:

300 pages. 300 pages.

Chad:

Yeah. Multiple tweets per page, all that other fun stuff. But anyway, I mean, from our standpoint to be able to hear about this, I mean this obviously crosses over into what we talk about all the time. We thought, man, we definitely want to talk about this. There's no question. We had to have it as a topic, which is why we did. And then you agreed to come on the show. So we really appreciate you doing that because in most cases, CEOs are like, yeah, no, I don't want any of that.

Ben:

Well, I appreciate it. You guys got a big audience of our users and our customers and I think I don't have to come in here and change minds. But I think tell them what you do, why we do it all that is a great opportunity for Fama and anything we can do to get the word about what we're doing is a great chance for us. So yeah. Thanks for having me.

Chad:

Tell us about you and then tell us a little bit about Fama and why did you start? Why does it exist? Tell us about that.

Joel:

Were you not hugged enough as a child, Ben?

Ben:

No, I had a very welcoming home. It was nice growing up, but had family issues certainly. No, it wasn't my family issues that started the company. I've been in software ever since really getting out of school, different companies. Always enjoyed working in technology, helping big companies solve tough problems using tech.

Ben:

And one of my companies early on, we hired a guy looked great on paper, his resume checked out. He was like a VP of sales. There were like 40 reps that we ran through for this guy. Board referred guy, a VP of sales. He had like 110% quota attainment eight quarters in a row. He came onboard six weeks in, he did something really bad. He sexually assaulted one of our employees actually. So it was a terrible thing to happen. It caused significant fallout for the business.

Ben:

And what we found after the fact, the postmortem that we do, is all of this misogynistic and pejorative content online this guy had posted, that had we seen that we never would have brought the gun on board.

Ben:

So people are always like, how did you start this company? You're a sales guy from startups and you did a couple executive roles at enterprise SAS companies. You had no HR experience coming into it, but it was really experiencing the sort of exact pain that we're solving for.

Ben:

So in 2015, I talked to a couple of folks I knew in HR, asked them if they were looking at social media, if they were looking at news and web content, kind of Googling someone, Facebooking someone before bringing them on board. And it turned out a lot of companies were, but with the FCRA and all the litigation around protected classes and the EEO, a lot of them, it was sort of this unspoken thing that was happening in HR and talent acquisition where recruiters were kind of absentmindedly Googling people or Facebooking people and seeing stuff they really shouldn't see when trying to find that kind of needle in the haystack.

Ben:

So we saw the problem as being big enough that we wanted to build some technology to automate the most manual tasks of that process. So that's why we built Fama. People always think we're like scoring people are giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down or we're making a recommendation on a candidate because I think with the history of data abuse, that's where our mind kind of naturally drifts to.

Ben:

But what the software does is it identifies certain types of content online. So a business will really define and say here are the behaviors online that we'd want to know about. It could be harassment, threats, bigotry, violence, et cetera. Language and alcohol too, as you saw on the Joe Rogan podcast. And just like a background check, if we find you know, something on a person's complete digital identity, it's not just social media. We look at like a non-courthouse litigation, so stuff like LexisNexis, business journals, social media, news, web content.

Ben:

If something falls into one of those categories that a company defined as relevant to their preemployment process, we add it to a report and we have a web-based dashboard where we do that and also a PDF copy of it. So really it's about customers defining "these are the behaviors that we care about, we want to know if these exist in a person's digital background."

Ben:

Operates just like a background check, the candidate signs a consent form, they get a chance to go through the pre adverse process. The employer wants to take action on that report, contest the results. And yeah, the employer makes the determination, so we're automating something that's been done manually for a long period of time.

Joel:

I assume they'll do this as they're an employee as well, right? They can sort of sporadically throughout their tenure do these kinds of checks that they're signing? They're signing off on that right?

Ben:

Mostly no. There's a lot of talk around continuous monitoring. The background screening industry, it's something that I think was one of SHRM's Hot Trends for 2019. Just from what I've seen, there's a lot of interest but not a lot of adoption. Just like with the background screen and the pre-employment phase, I think the business has a clearly defined business need to do it. Like I've seen some government contractors who will do it for reasons for national security. But by and large, most companies are doing this from a pre employment standpoint. When I

say most companies, I mean like 98% are doing this for pre employment.

Joel:

Okay, so they're basically signing off on, yes, a background check, but are they specifically signing off on sort of a social media review or online presence? And if not, how are you verifying that this Twitter account is this person or this news item is actually that person if they're not actually giving you their Twitter handle as part of the approval process?

Ben:

Yeah, basically with the disclosure and authorization process, just like a background check where it says we're going to look at credit data, criminal data, companies will amend that disclosure and authorization and include social media, news, and web content.

Ben:

Most employers, what they'll do is some will ask for the social media handles. Many will not. You're not allowed to ask for the password of course. But some companies will ask for the social handles. But we actually on our end, employ kind of a mix of both automated and human intelligence. And human intelligence, I mean literally dedicated analysts that sit in our office in LA that confirm that the social media profiles or news and web articles or litigation belong to the subject in question. So it's a mix of both automation and having a real person confirm that these subjects or these articles or profiles belong to the subject.

Joel:

So, if I just, five years ago, hated Chad Sowash and started up at Twitter handle "chadsowashisamazing" or something and put out some tweets about everything offensive possible, how would you guys be able to tell that that's not really Chad Sowash?

Ben:

You mean if you created a fake Chad Sowash account and started posting under his acronym or his name?

Joel:

Correct.

Ben: