More Employers Requiring Access to Private Social Media Info

More Employers Requiring Access to Private Social Media Info

Facebook protests practice of demanding passwords on job applications

Back in the days of yore when the most advanced technology in your house lay hidden in your microwave and your television, you didn't have to worry about divulging intimate details of your personal life during a job interview. You showed up, talked to your prospective employer, and as long as you weren't a total creep, you were trusted to keep your private life private. But the recent phenomenon of publicizing the private sphere via online channels has led some employers to push the limit of the information they ask for on their job applications. Many employers now ask that you link them to your various online profiles while applying for a job--and some are even demanding that applicants share their Facebook passwords.

You wouldn't give your Facebook, Twitter or Gmail password to your friend, let alone someone you haven't even met yet. So why are some employers being so pushy? Police departments in some states seem to want to be extra careful about whom they're hiring. If you want to become a Virginia state trooper, you've got to disclose pretty much everything you've ever put on the internet. And a North Carolina police department is even asking applicants for a clerical position to share all their passwords to all their social media profiles even before they're considered for an interview.

Egregious? Pretty much, yeah. And Facebook isn't taking too kindly to the trend, either. They've recently updated their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to prohibit soliciting someone else's password. After all, you wouldn't expect an interviewer to demand entry to your house or ask you to bring your personal photo albums to your entry screening just to make sure you've never done anything unsavory in your life. To scrutinize online profiles is excessive, invasive and just downright creepy. 

Thankfully, the ACLU is taking action against those in positions of authority who attempt to gain access to other people's Facebook profiles. They've already sued a public school who demanded that a student give over her Facebook and email account passwords after rumors circulated that she had talked about sex online. And Senator Richard Blumenthal (D - Conn) has been typing up a bill to make it a crime to demand passwords from people under your administrative power. Hopefully we soon see a national law that prevents this sort of scrutiny. I'd like the ability to keep my private life private even if I've published evidence of it online.