Hand Over Your Facebook Passwords?
It’s common knowledge (although knowledge rarely heeded) that you shouldn’t put anything on the internet that you don’t want seen. It’s why Facebook and Google+ offer different privacy settings for each piece of information you put on your profile, from photos to status updates. Many people choose to have private Facebook pages.
What if your Facebook profile was the source of a privacy violation? Imagine if a potential employer asked to see your Facebook profile during an interview and also asked for your password. As an employer myself, I would never ask for employees’ passwords—can’t we just be Facebook friends? But this is exactly what happened to Justin Bassett while interviewing for a job. He was so offended that he immediately withdrew his application. Like most people, Bassett didn’t feel comfortable working for a company that sought out such private information.
The reason why at least some employers see Facebook as a gray area is because it’s a mix of public and private information. Some employers are confused about what they have a right to see. But privacy settings are in place so that some information on Facebook is not shared with the general public, or even to a person’s entire network. Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are much more public (though Twitter can be privatized, too) and more suited for employers to use for employee analysis. LinkedIn was specifically created with people’s careers in mind; it’s a place to present yourself in the best light professionally. Twitter is becoming more and more the place to brand yourself. The combination of these two social media platforms give employers enough information to know whether or not an employee is a good fit for their company.
If an employer asks for a Facebook password, it’s in violation of Facebook’s terms. Some law enforcement agencies claim that they need this information to ensure potential employees don’t have gang connections, underage relationships or other illegal activity. I understand wanting to hire a law abiding citizen, but the proper tools for this would be a criminal background check, a drug test, fingerprints, etc.
Fortunately, Facebook is taking proactive steps to address this issue head on. And to the employer who wants my private information? No thanks, we can be Facebook friends, I’ll follow you on Twitter, and we’ll make a LinkedIn connection. That’s close enough for me.