It’s a known fact that when you apply for a job, most prospective employers will run a background check, including on your social media presence. With the tools to narrow down searches on Facebook according to location and education, if you don’t have your privacy settings securely made, employers may be able to see photos and posts that could conflict with your professional image.
However, the Associated Press reported that when a New York City man interviewed for a job, the employer asked him to disclose his Facebook username and password. She was attempting to search for his profile on the popular social network when she came across his private page. When she asked for the man to supply his account information, he decided to withdraw his application and cited that he would not be comfortable working for a company that wanted that much private information.
It is without a doubt that the prospective employer had gone too far to invade her applicant’s privacy even if she had no malicious intentions. But with the job market still as difficult as ever, not many people will be able to afford to withdraw their applications simply because they are desperate for the job, no matter what they had to sacrifice.
Surprisingly, this type of request during a job interview has not yet been deemed illegal by some states though many, including Illinois and Maryland, are working to ban this practice to their legislations. However, asking for someone else’s Facebook login violates the site’s terms of service yet we’ve seen this happen all the time with young adults in a relationship exchanging passwords as a way to confirm trust. Despite the Department of Justice declaring this action a federal crime, the agency said they would not prosecute such violations.
This type of practice is more common among public agencies, including jobs in the police departments. Back in 2010, a man who worked as a correctional officer in Maryland took a leave following the death of his mother. During his reinstatement interview, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services requested his Facebook login to check for possible gang affiliations. The man felt he had no choice but to surrender his account information to get his much needed job back.
Facebook has previously been known to provide a lot of groundbreaking information to a person’s life, and has been proven to solve various crimes or social injustices. Last year, a woman and her 17-month old baby were rescued from the woman’s ex-boyfriend when she pleaded for help on a status update. Still, even it seems easy and helpful, the social network should not automatically become open for background investigations for prospective jobs. Employers should just perform standard researches as they would in the pre-Facebook era before selecting to hire an applicant.
What would you do? Would you give up your Facebook login if it could cost you a job?