Your Boss Wants Access to Your Facebook Account
1 year ago
Employers are demanding access to prospective employees’ social media accounts.
Quick, hand over your Facebook login and password! We’ll need them, please, if we’re going to continue.
Very few of us would agree to such a request in an everyday circumstance. But during a job interview, that’s a different story. More and more these days, employers are insisting that not only their existing workforce but prospective job applicants provide access to their personal social media pages.
Ever since the advent of the Facebook's of the world, employers have cruised such pages in order to find out more about their current and potentially future employees. Often, however, Facebook users have their profiles (or the more incriminating aspects of them) set to private, in other words viewable only by those who’ve added the user as a friend. So lately employers have taken the further step of asking for access to the profile in order to have a look around its most sensitive areas. In many cases this means direct solicitation of the individual’s login details; in others, the employer might simply request the person to login themselves, then take over the computer to take a peek at the pages.
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Although this constitutes an egregious breach of privacy, it isn’t illegal. This is because, technically, the login information is surrendered voluntarily (no matter the language they use, employers cannot force anyone to provide this to them). However, in a still-shaky economy with unemployment dropping but still not nearly as low as it was in the pre-recession years, many people fear for their positions and are scared to take any risk that might get them fired, or cross them off a candidate list for a job. So they are more willing to agree to such requests.
This obnoxious habit might be curtailed in the future if Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) gets his way. Following a report on such practices by employers, Blumenthal announced he was writing a bill that would make them a federal offense. “These practices seem to be spreading, which is why federal law ought to address them,” he said, quoted by AP. “They go beyond the borders of individual states and call for a national solution.”
If such a solution is implemented, it would carry certain exemptions – high positions in law enforcement, for example, or jobs having to do with national security. Outside of that, it would cover the great majority of the American workforce.
The proposed law is a promising step forward, but until it goes through the legislative obstacle course potential job applicants and current employees are advised to be careful. Experts recommend that social media users not post on their page compromising photos and potentially offensive writings (such as religion- or, particularly, employer-bashing in status updates or commentary). Until the blanket of federal protection covers everyone in a workplace, it’s best to keep the private stuff away from prying eyes.