Should Potential Employers be Allowed to Ask an Interviewee for Their Facebook Password?

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Social media is no longer confined to the Internet. It lives in our everyday lives – at home, and even in the work environment. As you may have heard by now, some employers are trying to take the integration of social media and the workplace a little too far.

The Ultimate Invasion of Privacy

According to a recent report from the Associated Press, more companies in both the public and private sectors are asking job candidates to hand over the username and password to their precious Facebook account during the interview process. While these credentials are not necessarily as sensitive as the login ID and password to a consumer’s online banking account, they are private, and the fact that employers are increasingly considering this a requirement is an alarming trend no matter how you look at it.

Spectators are not taking this matter lightly, and neither are lawmakers. In fact, a pair of U.S. Senators recently asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice to look into the issue to determine whether these appalling employer practices violate any laws on a federal level. Furthermore, lawmakers in individual states are reportedly devising bills to ensure that the same practices do not violate local laws. The fact that both federal and state government oppose to employers requesting interviewees to share their Facebook login details is encouraging, but this battle appears to be far from over.

While asking consumers for their password definitely hinges on the edge of unethical, whether or not it is actually illegal is something that is unclear at this point. In the end, its true legality may boil down to whether it is considered an analog of running criminal background checks, credit checks, and other practices employers are currently allowed to use. Still, it is hard to believe that asking someone to willingly part with information that lets someone into their personal communications, on a stage that is likely to be more socially-driven than work related, would stand up in any court of law.

Facebook Weighs In

So where does Facebook stand on the matter of companies trying to muscle job candidates out of their password? On the side of its massive user community. An executive from the company responded to the issue by cautioning employers not to request this information. To be more specific, the exec warned that job applicants are protected by anti-discrimination laws that could leave an organization vulnerable to discrimination claims should they not hire the individual in question. This is an excellent point seeing how race, gender, and other basic profile information has been the basis of discrimination claims in the workplace for years.

The bottom line is that when it comes to interviewing for a position, no individual should have to fork over passwords to any personal accounts they own – be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other internet site. If a company blatantly ignores proven screening practices and is willingly to stoop to that level of investigating, what other lines would they be willing to cross?

Aidan Hijleh
Email marketing expert Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email. Aidan advocates free email marketing services... Read Full Bio
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