Employers Reject People Flagged by Tech Firm for 'Bigotry'

A tech company that investigates job applicant social media posts has found “red flags” in roughly 24.5 percent — marking them for sexism, racism, and hate speech.

Companies are hiring California-based Fama Technologies, which scanned more than 20 million pieces of public content in 2018. According to CNN Business, Fama creates “risk profiles” for job applicants and/or current employees “by scouring publicly available content online, including social media, message boards, blogs, news articles and comment sections.”

CNN reported that during 2018 “Fama screened more than 20 million pieces of public content online and found 14.2% of people had red flags for misogyny and sexism and 10.3% had indicators for bigotry, racism and hate speech.” 

One example posted on the company’s official website was college professor and administrator Megan Neely asking students to speak English in common areas rather than be ”so impolite as to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand.” Fama framed the incident as bullying by “asking students not to speak Chinese.” The professor’s problem was not that the Chinese language in particular was being spoken, so much as students were communicating in an exclusive way. 

Fama’s Twitter cited one example of a costly hire at Starbucks. The widely reported incident was one where a Starbucks manager enforced company policy that their bathrooms and their indoor seating are for paying customers. The manager called the police on two African-American men for occupying one of their tables without ordering anything. 

HRTechNews described the Fama analysis as a method where the AI program finds posts that are “hateful, misogynistic, or racist.” It then “sends the link to the recruiting team. The tool is thus used to catch bullies even before they join the company.”

The red-flag checking company is reported to have “more than 120 clients and screens 20,000 people a month.”

Fama CEO Ben Mones commented "We aren't saying anything about the person ... We can say this piece of text is an example of bigotry." Mones has stated that his company works with a wide range of industries including entertainment, media, and finance.

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