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.
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.