Should You Give Human Resources Access to Your Facebook Profile?

More and more, our private lives are available online.

When you sign up for a social network, you are putting yourself out there.

Post on Facebook?  Send a tweet?  Share on Google +?  You are putting information about yourself in the public domain, and it could be searchable.

While some privacy settings can limit what’s out there, you never know what sort of trail you are truly leaving online.

This is becoming important because, increasingly, companies are using online search as a way to determine whether or not you would make a good hire.

Social media is becoming a big part of the job search, and you need to be aware of this.  There are even companies offering services compiling social media profiles for employers.

Some companies, though, are going beyond simply searching the web for dirt on your past, or purchasing a report on your social media habits from a third party.

There are reports that some companies are actually asking for Facebook logins, and making friend requests.

Should Employers and Potential Employers Ask For Your Facebook Password?

There are already questions about whether or not human resource departments, and potential employers, should basically force employees and potential hires into accept friend requests.

Indeed, many employers want to be considered “friends” on Facebook in order to get access to the “private” images and status updates that might not appear in a more public search of the web.

Current employers want to check to see what employees are saying about a company, while potential employers might want to screen potential hires before making a decision.

This practice is already being debated.

After all, shouldn’t an employees private sentiments remain his or her own?  With the web becoming more prevalent, many companies worry that what their employees say on blogs and on Twitter can be construed as a company position.  They are interested in having access to what’s being said.

But, even before the thorny issue of friend requests on Facebook can be worked through, some employers are going a step further and asking for login information.

facebook password

Should you have to give your Facebook password to an employer?

There are reports that some companies — and even some government agencies — are asking employees and potential employees for their usernames and passwords for Facebook.

This new development has sparked outcry across the country as concerns about privacy are raised.

This is no longer pushing for access as a “friend” — this is outright asking for unfettered access to a social media account.

Indeed, many agree that asking for Facebook login information crosses a line.  While “friending” employees and potential employees can be debated, and while the advisability of using credit scores in the hiring process (something that isn’t officially done right now) can be debated, it appears as though there is a consensus that asking for actual login information is unacceptable.

Could You Be Denied a Job if You Don’t Give Your Information?

The problem, of course, is that you might be denied a job — or even be fired — if you show your unwillingness to provide your login information to human resources.

Many employers are choosing to take this as a sign that you have something to hide, and that they can terminate you on this basis.  For desperate job seekers who need employment, standing up to a company trying to bully them into turning over Facebook login information (or other social media logons) isn’t an option.

If you need a job, you need a job.

Balking at a request that is a clear invasion of your privacy doesn’t seem like the thing to do when you’re trying to put food on the table.

Some are stepping up, though.

Maryland is working on banning the ability for employers to ask for social media information.  The Maryland law is very careful to include a number of actions related to electronic communications.  Facebook isn’t the only social media network included; Maryland’s lawmakers want to make sure that employers can’t ask for any password information related to social media.

It’s time to make a stand.

If employees accept this intrusion with Facebook, it’s only a matter of time before human resource departments around the country begin making lists of social media networking usernames and passwords.

Companies have the right to cruise the web looking for publicly available information, and there might even be an argument (in some cases) for “friending” employees, or following them on Twitter.  But there is very clearly a number of issues related to actually turning over login information.

What do you think of giving out login information?  How do you feel about the growing role of social media in the hiring process?

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Published or updated October 23, 2012.


  1. I dread to think of the amount of laws they’d probably be breaking to try and pull such stunts here in the UK. It’s private information not related in any way shape or form to your employment. I can see why they’d *like* access, but I’d rather not work for them if that’s the kind of employer they are.

  2. I wouldn’t give log in information to anyone, but it’s foolish to think that Facebook is private.

  3. From the companies point of view, they are trying to avoid potential embarrassment. If you cannot show the stuff to your mother, clergy or spouse, maybe you should not have it on social media. Some feel it is an invasion of privacy because it occurs on your off time. Any potential embarrassment is fair game.

  4. What I do on my off time is – private. Unless I am working for the government (clandestine agency) then there is no need for my employer to have my FB password. That is like asking for my house keys or access to view my bank account online. Not happening as certain things are private.

    At the end of the day, getting the password to FB doesn’t prevent an employee from acting like a donkey. Selecting people with good character and utilizing evidenced based assessment tools are a better measure. Even then, look at the CIA and their recent issues in Colombia. Im sure they went through a vigorous process and those guys still did what they did.

  5. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    I wouldn’t give my password to a potential employee. Isn’t that against the Facebook terms of use anyways? “You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.”

  6. If I wouldn’t invite human resources down to the pub or any other social event or give them part control of my social life, then why would I give them my Facebook. You can see the route this is going down… everyone will have a Facebook profile and then some low-profile high-security network that is fully private. Facebook would just turn into to an extension of your work profile.

    I also disagree with those that say Facebook is a public profile and should be controlled. You shouldn’t have to limit the amount you enjoy life by spending time going through photos and comments to remove any that might be considered suspect by a potential employer. That road leads us all to becoming rigid machines that follow a script.

  7. I think that this is going way too far but people do need to exercise at least some caution as to what the post on Facebook and the other social media. I think common sense will go a long way here.

  8. Miranda this is a timely topic to cover. As the owner of a job placement company and HR practitioner I find the refusal to hire and termination for refusal to provide private information unfortunate. I know Facebook is challenging these actions through their own private use policy. Thanks for bringing this into a more vibrant discussion mode.

  9. Hmm. Maybe this is a Canadian thing, but I’m in HR here and you can’t just ask for somebody’s login information. Sometimes the manager of the department (never HR unless we’re hiring for somebody to work in HR) will look up the person’s Linkedin profile or Facebook but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to ask for login information.

  10. I don’t have a Facebook, but I think companies that do this are dumb, dumb, dumb. Say they find out that someone is pregnant/a minority/Muslim/atheist/disabled based on information from a Facebook profile and hire someone else who is not obviously more qualified? It’s a big old lawsuit waiting to happen.

  11. Of course no one should give a present or prospective employer their FB passwords or any other passwords. Nor should an employer be permitted to ask for such a thing.

    But on the other hand…hullo? Facebook is on the Internet! What part of “on the Internet” says “private”?

  12. I totally disagree with human resources invading a person personal facebook page. For this reason you give a employer certain amount of time on a job everyday of your life. And when you get off work you should be able to post what ever you want in the privacy of your lifestyle after work. I don’t think you can determine whether what a person photos look like or and posting there are say surrounding there personal lifestyle. They shouldn’t exclude a person from employment for basically living life after work and before. Human resources should be careful on how they approach this situation. Definitely screaming Lawsuit…

What Do You Think?