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Everyone has the right to privacy and most are willing to go to great lengths to keep their information private. When it comes to the Internet however, many of us seem to be freer with our private details. Companies have been taking advantage of this and have been using the Internet to research applicants who apply for jobs. A few companies have gone a step too far, much to the indignation of job seekers.
News agencies have been carrying stories about companies that have been asking job applicants for their Facebook logins and passwords before or during an interview. This is a slightly unsettling trend when observed from the job interviewee viewpoint.
It’s become a common practice of employers to look at the social profiles of potential employees to get to know the job seeker on a more personal level. Users have responded by ensuring that their profiles are private, much to the chagrin of would-be snoopers. So what have companies done? Some have started asking potential employees for access to their social media usernames and passwords. This new practice has the masses wondering, “Is this legal and am I protected?”
Currently there are no laws (in the US) that state that it’s illegal for employers to ask employees, potential or otherwise, for their social network usernames and passwords. There are however lawmakers in California, Maryland and Illinois who have introduced legislation that will bar companies from asking for account information. But this is by no means law yet.
Facebook has weighed in on this as well, “This practice [asking for passwords] undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”
What Facebook means by this is that if a company does check into a potential employee, sees they are part of a protected group e.g., LGBT, and does not hire a person on those grounds the company could face claims of discrimination. Beyond that, Facebook also pointed out that giving out or soliciting passwords to your or another user’s account is a breach of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
According to most articles, this is a fiasco. But if you look at it from an HR point of view, you want to know that the person sitting across from you really is who they say they are. You are protecting your interests as much as the interviewee is protecting their privacy. Short of asking people for their passwords there are five legal actions you can take to find out more about an interviewee.
You will be able to find just as much information about a person by using legal means to research as compared with asking for their social media accounts. If you would like to learn more about Facebook or other social media sites let us know.
Published on 2nd May 2012 by Jeanne DeWitt.