Fedweek

Checking of publicly available postings on social media will become a standard part of background checks on federal employees for new or renewed security clearances, under an Obama administration policy decision. The policy, years in the making, means that clearance applicants or holders will have to consent to searching of information that has been broadcast or published for public consumption; is available to the public on request; is accessible online to the public; is available to the public by subscription or purchase; or is otherwise lawfully accessible to the public. Information turned up in those searches will be weighed under the same standards that investigators use when deciding if and how to follow up information from other sources, such as document searches or interviews. Also, the same rules will apply regarding how the information is used and shared inside the government. Officials said at a House hearing that social media is a logical next step in background checking, noting that electronic searches already are conducted of law enforcement and financial records in background investigations.