Employers Asking For Facebook Passwords – What do you think?

Mar 23 2012 in Featured, Networking/Social Networking, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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An AP article this week described how employers are increasingly asking candidates for their Facebook password.

As this trend continues to increase, there will be nowhere to hide for candidates (at least online). It won’t matter what privacy controls Facebook adds, it won’t matter what you make private – with your password, an employer can see everything.

If you’re searching for a job, you shouldn’t have anything on your Facebook account that you wouldn’t want your mother or boss to see … no matter what privacy controls you’ve set.

We forget that Facebook is public, yet many people say things on Facebook that they would never say in public, to a new acquaintance, and especially never want to be brought up during a job interview. If you want your thoughts to be expressed privately, use email. Anything you post on Facebook, anything tagged to you on Facebook, you should consider in the public domain.

It becomes even more dangerous with Facebook’s new timeline feature, because timeline allows employers to easily go back to see the things you talked about years ago. For some of you, that could expose all of the crazy things you posted while you were in college – things you don’t want employers to see.

These excerpts from the original article, “Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords” describes how this happens in the hiring process.

When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.

Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information …

… In their efforts to vet applicants, some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person’s social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around …

… Since the rise of social networking, it has become common for managers to review publically available Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and other sites to learn more about job candidates. But many users, especially on Facebook, have their profiles set to private, making them available only to selected people or certain networks.

Companies that don’t ask for passwords have taken other steps — such as asking applicants to friend human resource managers or to log in to a company computer during an interview. Once employed, some workers have been required to sign non-disparagement agreements that ban them from talking negatively about an employer on social media …

… Asking for a candidate’s password is more prevalent among public agencies, especially those seeking to fill law enforcement positions such as police officers or 911 dispatchers.

Technically, this is a request to voluntarily turn over passwords, log in for the employer, or friend the employer. With the job market as terrible as it is today, this is realistically arm-twisting and coercion. Many job seekers feel they can’t afford to say no.

What was even more interesting, were the comments made to this article. I’ll include selected comments, but I’d really like you to share what you think about this new trend in job search – please share your comments below.

In the meantime, look at some of the comments made by readers of the original article:

  • I have nothing to hide, I don’t go on to my facebook account that often. But it seems to me that we are giving up a lot of freedom under the guise of “I have nothing to hide.” It doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not I have anything to hide, but whether the company or agency should have… – BM
  • When is enough, enough? There is no privacy for the regular 9-5 (well in most cases 7-6pm+). our rights are rapidly eroding and I, you, we are doing nothing about it. We’re sitting here reading about greedy corporations invading our privacy for (the right) to work for them, and I just came to… – Z
  • If this is not outlawed even for private enterprises soon, then this will become a mandatory requirement for all interviews as time passes. – TE
  • Remember folks, it takes up to TWO WEEKS to delete a FaceBook account permanently!! – S
  • if the interviewer asked for mine, I ask him for his company login. piece of #$%$ Big Brother. They don’t have any right to do that – T
  • I think I’ll try that. The next time I interview someone, I’ll ask for facebook and myspace passwords. If they give them up, then they have no chance at a job from me. – R
  • 1984 – JB
  • Anybody willing to give up their privacy should not be considered for the job. If they can sell out that easily, how much easier it will be for them to sell out to competitors and offer trade secrets or client lists. – R
  • We have been enslaved. – AT
  • Remember that old saying, “Kids Say the Darnedest Things?” Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, it is proven that adults are far immature. – V
  • Regardless of whether or not I have something to hide, I would absolutely refuse this information. What’s next, asking for my email password? Absurd. – H
  • And that’s why I don’t have a Facebook or a Linked In account. Eventually, that stuff’s going to be used against you. If I ever did get a Facebook account it would be under my dog’s name or some other pseudonym that couldn’t easily be tracked back to me. – M
  • Someone should post a blog on Facebook, Twitter and any other Social Network asking if anyone has had a company, government agency, employment agency or others ask for their login information as a requisite to employment. – V
  • If they ask for my info then do I really want to work there? Aka most of you at work posters will. – T
  • Such garbage. As if people don’t have to go through enough useless #$%$ for interviews. I was at one just last month where I had to take a 2 hour online assessment. It was a combination of word association questions, personality questions, math questions, letter pattern questions and spatial… DW
  • “Giving out Facebook login information violates the social network’s terms of service. But those terms have no real legal weight, and experts say the legality of asking for such information remains murky.” Maybe the legality is murky but the complete lack of ethics is crystal clear. In my… M
  • Outloud – “I would, but it violates my facebook user agreement. Certainly an HR manager such as yourself can understand my wanting to follow the rules :)” In my head – Do I really want to work here? – BJ

Readers, please share your thoughts and comments below. If you’ve experienced a HR rep asking for access to your Facebook account, please share your story.

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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