Some Potential Employers Request Social Media Logins

What do you think about employers asking for login credentials for social media sites during interviews? What about potential employers asking to connect, so they can view your connections and make employment decisions based on what you show your friends online and who they are? Would you allow an employer to view your account? Would you ask a potential employee for access to his/hers? We’ve talked about how acting in certain ways online can get you fired. How about not getting the job in the first place?

When I caught NPR’s All Things Considered’s conversation with Robert Collins, who had an employer request his Facebook username and password during an interview, I was stunned. After Collins provided the information, the employer logged in and explored Collins’ account, including areas that are usually private. A piece from the day before reveals some of the legalities and background of the practice. Several organizations regularly expect prospective employees to turn over access to various online accounts in order for potential employers to see who their connections are, what kind of person they are online, and what they’re doing. At least one state is now considering legislation preventing employers from violating people’s online privacy in such a manner. Some job seekers are bold enough to decline to give access. Others feel trapped and acquiesce.

(I hope they remember to change their passwords later!)

(This kind of privacy invasion illustrates another reason I still don’t use Facebook and several other similar services. While I understand the tools’ value and popularity, I don’t want to broadcast my entire life across the Internet, then have someone else think they have the right to access the secret portions of it.)

Addendum: Gizmodo’s update on the situation includes a statement from Facebook discouraging users from sharing login information. Facebook points out the practice of scrutinizing employees’ and job seekers’ profiles exposes the employer to information about which they can’t legally ask during the interview process (age, religion, family status … ) and opens them up to some legal liability.

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