Government Will Start Looking at Your Social Media Accounts for Background Checks

A new policy states that the federal government may look at an employee’s social media accounts as part of conducting background investigations for a security clearance.

Federal employees take note: if you are undergoing a background check for a security clearance, the government will now be taking a look at your social media accounts.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed off on the new policy on Thursday.

According to the new policy, “Agencies may choose to collect publicly available social media information in the personnel security background investigation process, which pertains to the covered individual’s associations, behavior and conduct, as long as the information pertains to the adjudicative guidelines for making determinations of initial or continued eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) praised the policy decision, saying, “It defied common sense for the government to overlook social media data available to anyone with an internet connection. I am glad [the director of national intelligence] is taking a big step toward fixing such a glaring lapse in our security clearance process.”

The Office of Personnel Management conducts about 95% of the government’s background checks. OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert said that she “looks forward to implementing the policy.”

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.