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While South African companies face a hiring crunch because of the economic challenges faced over the past two years, an increasing number are turning to background checks before hiring, says Jennifer Barkhuizen at background screening and vetting company, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE).

“With the rising rate of people looking for jobs in South Africa, some people will go to any lengths to secure employment, including falsifying their qualifications, mispresenting their work experience, or hiding the fact that they have a criminal record,” she said.

MIE conducted close to 2.3 million background screening transactions during 2021. Barkhuizen said that the demand for these services has steadily increased over the past five years, with the group expecting this trend to continue in 2022.

“Our most requested checks remain criminal record and qualification verification, but we have also seen a sharp increase in social media screening requests,” said Barkhuizen.

“With well over 30 million social media users in South Africa – and with this number growing daily– social media screening is becoming more of a business imperative than ever before, taking into consideration the reputational risks the misuse of social media can cause to an organisation.”

The group’s social media screening data shows:

  • 31% of negative content is found on Facebook.
  • 30% of negative content is found on Twitter.
  • 9% of negative content is found through a web search/Google.
  • 48% of all negative content was found to be of a discriminatory nature (racism; sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination; potential hate speech).
  • 35% of all negative content was found to contain unprofessional content/sexual images (high amounts of profanity, potential defamation, aggressive content).
  • 21% of all negative content was found to demonstrate drug use and/or distribution (this takes into account the decriminalisation of marijuana).
  • 10% of all negative content is found to be of a potentially illegal nature (drinking and driving, prostitution, potential fraud, assault).
  • 16% of all negative content found related to misinformation or “fake news”.
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