Trend of employers asking potential employees for Facebook password gets backlash

In these hard economic times, securing an interview is both a promising and vital part of the employment process. However, in recent months, a trend has been noted that employers are increasingly asking for the Facebook password to potential employees’ accounts, causing public backlash in regards to privacy. As the Facebook 250 million users are aware of, this would allow easy access to one’s account— and what many are protesting crosses boundaries between what is considered social and what is a career.

According to The Week, such debate on whether or not such a practice is legal has served as a “political football” between Democrats and Republicans, the former of which is doing all they can to “’to adopt a rule or to amend an existing rule’ to prohibit employers from mandating that job applicants or employees disclose confidential passwords to social networking websites.” Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Charles Schumer of New York are currently sifting through Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in order to counteract the legality of employees asking for such authorization to private accounts. However, critics have argued that because of potential employees handing over their password in the first place in itself cancels out any implied invasion of privacy.

First-year Robert Ward, who chooses not to have his photograph as his profile picture on his own Facebook account, argues that nothing is stopping potential employees from flat-out refusing to give their password in the first place.

“Now at some point in time if some employer asked for your password and you said, ‘Hell no,’ and they said, ‘Well, you’re not getting the job,’ you can say, ‘Fine, I value my privacy more than I value a job.’ This is not necessarily all that bad.  I would say [to a potential employer], ‘I’m an undergraduate and some minimum wage job is not worth letting you look at everything I’ve got on Facebook.’”

Maryland has already taken legislative steps to make sure that such scenarios do not occur. According to mashtable.com, both Houses of the Maryland General Assembly “voted on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill blocking the practice on Monday afternoon.” The bill entailed that employers would still be able to view profiles that were left entirely public, but it would be considered illegal to insist upon access to passwords that would lead to conditions of employment.

“I mean, Facebook in general isn’t very private, it’s very, very public,” first-year and Facebook user Francis “Frankie” Alibro said. “Not that that’s any justification for being able to having to give your password to employers. [Employers asking for passwords] is an invasion of privacy because of the idea that the Facebook’s only supposed to be yours, only you can have access to it, because it legally has to represent you—that’s why you can’t use fake names or anything—so if somebody else has your information and can check up on you, they’re assuming your identity.”

Alibro stated that one of the most harmful things a potential employer could see on one’s Facebook are tasteless photos that they have been “inadvertently tagged in.” He stated that on occasion he had considered deactivating his account, but considered it to be pointless.

“[Facebook] still has all the information you put on there anyway,” he remarked.

Information for this article was taken from The Week, The Las Vegas Sun, and mashtable.com

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