March 20, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Want A Job? Hand Over Your Facebook Username And Password
It has become increasingly common that your employer (or prospective employer) will search for your personal online activity. This is why you should configure your Facebook privacy settings accordingly…or don’t post content that could get you in trouble at work. Now some employers are taking it a step too far by requesting your Facebook username and password. This is what happened to Justin Bassett when he interviewed for a new job.
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.
‘Audacity’ is a word that comes to mind. Personal information posted online has the potential to hurt your job prospects and there is little recourse. I think asking for credentials is unacceptable. Not only is it unacceptable from a privacy standpoint, it’s also unacceptable from a computer security standpoint. All companies should know that it’s a very bad practice to ask for someone’s password. Is this the culture they want to instill in current and future employees?
Questions have been raised about the legality of the practice, which is also the focus of proposed legislation in Illinois and Maryland that would forbid public agencies from asking for access to social networks.
I doubt this would be viewed as illegal for private companies since you don’t have to comply with the request. But that means this is one more potential obstacle for people looking for work in a weak economy.