Companies Asking for Your Facebook User Name and Password is Wrong

Can you imagine being asked this during a job interview?

“Can I read all of your private messages and private status updates so I can inspect them before I hire you?”

Before social media, this would be an almost impossible task, and something most employers wouldn’t have thought as possible.

Now not only is it possible, it’s easy to ask for. But still wrong.

Most Facebook profiles provides information about people’s age, race and religion, most of it not legal to ask for during a job interview.

Asking for that information during a job interview is against the law and could be considered discrimination. Facebook has enough controls where you can hide this information fairly easily. By giving the user name and password your employer, you are giving them full access to all information to your account. As quoted from the Jobvite blog post by CEO Dan Finnegan:

At this point in our history, I think most people know that it is illegal to ask job candidates about their age or religion. You cannot ask someone if they are married, have children or are pregnant. You cannot even ask their citizenship. Clearly, asking someone to access their private Facebook profile would provide answers to most, if not all of these kinds of questions.

During interviews, you can’t even ask this information — you have to steer clear because the you are supposed to judge them on their qualifications.

It’s a gross breach of privacy.

Doing a Google search on a candidate is one thing: this is publicly available information that is easily found. But the first thing I have always said is, “Sure, if it’s on the internet, it must be true.”

You can determine if they’ve bought an house, what their credit score is and where they have lived fairly easily through background checks. But that usually requires some kind of signed document allowing the company to do so, and that gives the applicant the chance to decide if they want to work there. I generally don’t interview at companies that require drug tests because as a Libertarian, I feel like that’s an invasion of my privacy, even if I don’t use drugs.

I once heard of a situation where a company wanted the phone records of a consultant to remove billable time from the bills. Even with the consultant using a company phone, they couldn’t do it as to risk legal action from the consultant because it would disclose possible personal phone numbers. Seriously — would you want your boss to have a record of every phone call you made so they could possibly call those people?

But to able to go through personal messages and friend lists? Really? How could that even be legal?

This shows a level of distrust between employee and employer.

If I’m sitting in an interview, and they are asking for my social media user names and passwords during the interview, how much privacy am I going to have when I work at the company?

Where does it stop? Are they going to insist on reading my social media messages once a week?  Are they going to insist on drug tests?  Are they going to want to see my credit card statements?

We spend one-third of our waking hours at our jobs, building personal relationships that go beyond the paycheck. But, there has to be an expectation of the separation of work and personal lives, and the last thing I want is a level of distrust between me and my employer that requires them approving every single photo or private message I send to a friend.

I think it’s in companies’ best interests to not know what every employee does in their off hours, especially if they are productive in their organizations.

Social Media should be used for positive uses

I like working a Jobvite because our technology helps people find jobs for their friends. Studies have also shown that employee referrals means more profitable companies. That’s the power of the Jobvite (or for the matter, any social media) platform — connecting people to change their lives through better opportunities.

The recruiters I talk to go through great lengths to give  reasonable  protections of privacy for their applicants, and encourage the use of social media only for positive purposes. I wish all people considered the same.

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