Employers asking job seekers to surrender Facebook passwords

The rise of social networking is leading to a new trend in the work place : proposing the question would you give up your Facebook password in order to land a new job? The request is now getting some attention on Capitol Hill.

Facebook (FILE)

Facebook (FILE) (FOX59, WXIN-TV / March 26, 2012)

Some employers are demanding that job-seekers surrender their Facebook credentials as a condition of being hired. That means HR is poking around for hidden gems about you if you let them.

"It's sometimes very positive. We learn more about a candidate that maybe we didn't know in an interview," explained Brie Floyd of Graham Personnel Services.

On Sunday, two United States senators asked for a department of justice investigation to see if the procedure is a violation of federal law.

"There's nothing voluntary about an employer asking a job applicant for login credentials or passwords. It is coercive," said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D/CT)

The method has alarmed privacy advocates. But is it illegal? Facebook pages generally contain personal information protected by federal employment laws like a person's gender, race, religion and age.

"The good news is it may be illegal already,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D/NY). “We do have privacy laws, but they're not updated to deal with modern technologies like Facebook." 

Senators Schumer and Blumenthal vowed to fill in any gaps in the law and Facebook harshly condemned the practice, threatening legal action arguing your information is no one's business.

"This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends," said Facebook in a statement.

"You shouldn't be required to give up your private life just to get a job," said Schumer. 

Facebook's terms of rights and responsibilities forbid users from sharing their passwords. Aside from the privacy concerns, the company considers it a security risk.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile Alerts and Apps