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Why College Admissions Need to Be Using Social Media Monitoring Software

January 4, 2021

A social media screener can improve admissions processes in more ways than one.

The idea of social media monitoring software has begun to gain traction as colleges and universities face the prospect of unwanted scandals. The case of incoming Temple student Gabe Escobar, the son of the editor of The Inquirer, is illustrative. 

If Temple University had been using LifeBrand’s social media monitoring software as part of their admissions process, it’s likely that this story never would have come to light. 

The Fix: How College Admissions Scandals Unfold

In June of 2020, Temple University stated that it would investigate complaints about multiple current and prospective students following a damaging find. Gabe Escobar, son of Inquirer editor and vice president Gabriel Escobar, had used the N-word as well as homophobic slurs on Snapchat in 2017. 

The university was faced with a public relations nightmare when someone highlighted the posts on Twitter, identified Escobar as an incoming Temple student, and listed the contact information of the university’s admissions office. 

Temple University tweeted, “We’re aware of this content and the student associated. We have sent this information to our Dean of Students for further review and investigation.” 

Meanwhile, the backlash from parents and students was making itself felt both on the platform and off: 

“I’ve paid a lot of money for my daughter to go to Temple for three years.  This ...(Lord help me) doesn’t deserve to shine her shoes let alone go to the same school!  What is there to investigate Temple??? KICK HIM OUT!!!” 

“This is unacceptable. I have a number of African American friends who will be attending this fall and behavior like this shouldn’t be tolerated. It leaves people feeling unsafe on campuses they pay tuition for! Pls do something about this.” 

Why University Admissions Should Be Using Social Media Background Checks 

This story, like so many others, communicates a harmful message about the identity of the university, and will almost certainly make prospective students think twice before applying. 

Deans of Admissions have long been loath to formalize the practice of checking social media profiles as part of their admissions process, but many—if not most—offices are already doing it on an informal basis. 

Manually scrolling through the social media of prospective students can help identify red flags, but this isn’t feasible when hundreds of applications are waiting to be vetted. In the same way that many employers require a criminal background check before offering a job, universities can use a social media screener to filter out candidates who don’t align with their values. With the use of artificial intelligence technology, the process becomes more efficient and less prone to human error. 

LifeBrand’s technology also eliminates the possibility of personal prejudice creeping in. Studies on online bias from Stanford University have shown that people may make unfair judgments (for example, judging someone more harshly for the same behavior due to the color of their skin or other factors), while artificial intelligence is programmed to judge impartially. 

Furthermore, integrating social media monitoring tools into the admissions process is completely legal. Freedom of speech and student privacy rights remain protected when college admissions simply request the scan as part of their process. Prospective students retain control over their profiles when performing the scan. Damaging posts are highlighted for the student to erase or override. Any “overrides” for high-level harmful content are sent to the admissions office for viewing with the student’s full knowledge and consent.

The result? A more honest and transparent admissions process, a dramatic reduction in harmful  PR incidents, and a learning opportunity for students about how to use social media responsibly. 

Would you like to know more? We’d be glad to make a presentation to you about our services for universities—free of charge. To contact us at LifeBrand, please call 610-529-8662 or email info@lifebrand.life.