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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  • Digital Skratch

    Who would want to work for such a company anyways that does not trust their employees or values their privacy. This disregard of personal liberty is disgusting. What would they do if people simply don’t own a Facebook account, not hire them?

  • Hando

    I can see that somewhat from the employers point of view but I still think that is wrong. And also the assumption that everyone has a Facebook account?? I do not have personal Facebook account, is that going to be held against me or do they think I am hiding something?

  • Ros

    For goodness sake, what an invasion of privacy that would be. How terrible to find potential employers judging you on your personal online behaviour. We all are ‘actors’ when at work and we also ‘act’ on Facebook sometimes. I know of some people who behave very near the knuckle on Facebook amongst their friends but as employees or business owners, they’re committed and successful. IMO there’s nothing to be gained by employers and it shouldn’t ever be acceptable. It would also destroy Facebook!

  • Cory Ellis

    I have seen this article on several other websites and in the news lately and it seems to be a common consensus among those that have common sense. I don’t see any reason why employers would feel the need to obtain the login information for someones Facebook account. Not only is it an invasion of privacy but unless you are applying for the secret service it’s unnecessary. I could see them requesting to be be added as a friend, which isn’t an issue, but full access to all messages, photos, chat logs and such is beyond inappropriate.

    For those that say “if you want the job then just do it” I say to you quit letting people run over you. You need to stand up and protect your basic rights to privacy and stop giving everything up just to get one step ahead in life. I understand that the economic times are not the greatest right now, but stooping to this low is unacceptable and I can’t wait for the first multi-million dollar lawsuit to be filed. I just wish it could be on the winning end.