Hired or Fired – No Judgement Here!

Recently a young woman in America was fired from her job in a Texas Bank because her engagement photos were deemed inappropriate for a “family-oriented” company. The photos were uploaded to social media by the photographer and were tasteful and professional; the man was topless with a pair of jeans on and the woman wore a swimming costume that was pulled down but her breasts weren’t shown.

The ex-employee said, “I gave over a year to a company that I worked really hard for and then to have them turn on me for doing something so positive, something that I was so proud of — to help myself as a woman — it was hurtful.”

The bank’s decision to fire pregnant Stephanie (who is over 20 weeks pregnant) not only raised huge concerns for her wellbeing (she lost her maternity leave and insurance which in America is a major necessity) but it also raised questions about how employers look at social media.

Although social media is a great place to see the full picture of a person, details obtained from a personal site should be discussed with your employee, if you believe that, even though their content may not show them doing anything illegal but you feel is inappropriate or affects the company, talk to your employee about privacy rules and have a professional conversation about what they share online.

Here at Neotas, we investigate an individual’s social media footprint and online presence in search of illegal activity, discriminatory behaviour and evidence of undisclosed information. We do not hack, steal or invade the individual’s privacy nor do we judge or manipulate their online personal life. Our findings are based on workplace safety issues and vulnerability concerns for both the individual and the hiring company. Specifically, our staff screening provides clients with a report that delves deeper and provides insights and facts that current database checks fail to unearth – not just the single photo that one person might not like!

Tech Community Versus Terrorism

Earlier this week, Andrew Parker, Director-General of MI5, made a rare public appearance to outline the severity of the terrorist threat currently being faced in the United Kingdom. Within his speech, Mr Parker said that technology firms, specifically social media platforms and operators, were inadvertently helping terrorists by not doing enough to take down extremist content or for allowing terrorists a “safe space” to both communicate and operate. He went on to state that he believes “that there is a responsibility on the companies that offer those services to help governments be able to stop the worst excesses of human criminal behaviour.” A viewpoint that echoes that of the Prime Minister, who last month urged Tech firms to “go further and faster” to stop terrorist material reaching online platforms.

While no-one can argue with the intention of these statements, their implementation however is considerably more difficult. Over the past 12 months, we have seen social media platforms battle to understand how their platforms are being exploited and what can be done to mitigate, remediate, and protect against the issues. We’ve seen Facebook amongst others admit that machine learning and artificial intelligence alone cannot identify and resolve all issues and in the 48 hours Twitter have launched their latest crackdown on hate and abuse. But the question remains, is this enough?

Here at Neotas, we believe that it is not only the social media tech firms but the entire tech community who can assist to start eliminating these “safe spaces”. Through our screenings and investigations, we are consistently delving deeper into social media profiles in addition to those portions of the web hidden away from Google. Over the past six months, our team of expert analysts have reported numerous cases to Crimestoppers and through the Government Prevent strategy. We have policies in place for exactly these eventualities, as we believe that our commitment is not only to our clients but to the greater community as a whole. It is for this reason that we additionally work with a number of charities and partners to use open source information to combat some of the greatest challenges facing our society today.

No matter how much artificial intelligence develops, no single platform can prevent and stop these issues alone. Moreover, the inclusion of an analyst is essential to both review and influence the direction an investigation. At Neotas, we are proud of the work of our analysts and to be collaborating and contributing to a safer internet environment.

Neotas at 6 months

In August, Neotas reached the 6 month mark and to celebrate this milestone we thought we would share with you our journey so far – the good, the bad and the ugly (and that’s just the bosses)!

Neotas went live in February 2017. With one full-time paid member of staff and one client, we were off. We started with a new website, research techniques constantly developing, our platform constantly improving and never-ending meetings.

Our growth from that point forward has been amazing. Six months later, we now have an amazing team of seven full-time members of staff, a growing number of key strategic thought leaders, a pool of addition analytical support and an active client list of over fifteen clients. We’ve additionally built significant partnerships with a number of charities. For our primary charity, Stop The Traffik, we provide analytical support and are working with them to develop a platform which is able to identify modern slavery hotspots globally and to provide supply chain due diligence required for compliance with the Modern Slavery Act. Due to this partnership, we now feature amongst organisations including:

Our message continues to spread. Last month we completed our first exhibition stand at the inaugral Innovate Finance Growth Forum and Jenni, our Head of Research, has already spoken at a number of key events across London. We’ve focused our efforts and then through demand, refocused our efforts to meet requirements. We’ve disagreed, we’ve battled and surprisingly on the odd occasion we’ve actually agreed with each other.

We are so incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing and growing Neotas family who all as individuals care and believe in the venture as much as the initial founders did. The work we are producing is also key. Over our first six months, we have raised Amber and Red flags on 32% of all reports we have completed. Considering the vast majority of these had already undergone traditional background screenings and due diligence, this figure is huge! Even more significant is what some of those alerts have been. While our reports have actively informed decision making for investors, laywers and HR departments alike, in our most serious cases, we have been required to refer 2 cases to crimestoppers, 1 through PREVENT for concerns relating to terrorism, and 4 cases have been referred by the clients to the UK’s serious fraud office. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, we have our eyes opened once again! More importantly, all of our clients are happy! In fact we are still running at a 100% acceptance rate for clients who trial our reports in some capacity who then become clients. The road for Neotas has just begun and our team cannot wait to continue to share our experiences and this journey with you.

If you’d like to get in touch to know more or to discuss applications which are relevant to your business, please visit our website or email us on info@neotas.com.