Social networking passwords requested by prospective employers

It’s a tough economy out there. There are plenty of people looking for jobs, and if job applications and competition among other applicant’s wasn’t tough enough now potential employers may be adding one more line to that form; one that says “What is your Facebook/Twitter/Other social networking site password?” Would you provide it? 

It’s an unfortunate trend for employers to ask, possibly even during an interview, for your social networking password. Now we have all heard of how some potential employers  may ask for a link to your Facebook or Twitter page, and yes some job counselors can even attempt to justify this questions, saying that potential employers or schools are trying to see if you “fit” into their culture or work ethic. But gaining access to your password goes one step beyond what your personal profile may reveal, allowing them access to photos, activities and events even that you have marked for “friends” or “family” only.

Some argue that it’s no big deal and they will just change their password after they walk out of the interview. However, I wonder, isn’t this a violation of our rights. For example, there are certain questions that potential employers aren’t allowed to ask, like about your marital status, sexual orientation or family status (pregnant or have children). By accessing these pages they gain this knowledge without every having to ask the questions.

Here is what some experts have to say:
“It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys,” said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor who calls it “an egregious privacy violation.” (USA Today)

The Department of Justice regards it as a federal crime to enter a social networking site in violation of the terms of service, but during recent congressional testimony, the agency said such violations would not be prosecuted. (USA Today)

“When it comes to feeding one’s family and taking care of one’s family that is always a highest priority, and a lot of us would prioritize that over privacy concerns,” said UC Davis Professor Andy Jones, a social-media expert. (ABC Local- Sacramento)

As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password. (Facebook statement/Clutch Magazine)

Facebook’s Privacy Chief says,

If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends. We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.

As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, told Politico about a bill he is working on that would prohibit employers and prospective employers from requesting access to Facebook accounts, comparing the process with polygraph tests, calling it an “unreasonable invasion of privacy,” and saying: “I am very deeply troubled by the practices that seem to be spreading voraciously around the country. The coercive element of the request really makes it less than voluntary.”

However some potential employers say “What are you hiding?”  “What do you have posted that you don’t want us to know?”   Sort of a guilty until proven innocent theory at work here isn’t it?

So, what do you think?  Would you share your password to your social networking sites in a job interview? What’s next?  Access to your banking or credit card statements, or your telephone or cable television records?  After all those activities can be accessed online too.

Some Agencies, Colleges Now Ask for Social Media Passwords: MyFoxPHOENIX.com

 

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