by Kristin Burnham

Would You Give Your Employer Access to Your Facebook Page? [Poll]

Mar 20, 20123 mins
FacebookSocial Networking Apps

More employers are requesting -- and sometimes requiring -- that you hand over your social networking usernames and passwords as a condition of employment. Are you onboard with this new trend?

Facebook is a personal space. It’s where you keep in touch with friends, share photos of vacations and express your (sometimes mundane) thoughts. You probably keep relatively strict settings, too, to ensure you’re only sharing with certain people or networks.

So what would you do if a company you’re interviewing with asked for your Facebook login credentials?

It’s not a hypothetical question. Believe it or not, that’s what happened to one New York City man.

An Associated Press article published today recounted the story of Justin Bassett, a statistician who interviewed for a new job. According to the article, he expected the usual interview questions, but was caught off-guard when the interviewer asked for something different: his Facebook username and password.

“Bassett […] had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information. Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information.

And surprisingly, he’s not alone. Last year, The Atlantic examined this trend, too.

According to the article, a Maryland man with the Department of Corrections was asked to give up his Facebook password during a reinstatement interview after taking a leave of absence following his mother’s death. He did, because he needed the job.

The American Civil Liberties Union took up the case, calling it “a frightening and illegal invasion of privacy.” Ultimately, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services stopped asking interviewees for their Facebook login.

Since social media has gone mainstream, so has the practice of vetting online identities: Googling a name will return results on social networking profiles, media mentions and more. It’s a common practice now for HR reps and recruiters, and all fair game since the information is public.

But, as George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor Orin Kerr put it, companies that require your Facebook login credentials, especially for your private, personal accounts, is “akin to requiring someone’s house keys.” Why not throw in your banking information, too?

Privacy, a fickle topic these days, should not be taken for granted, nor should it be readily handed over, regardless of how clean or innocent the information may be. It’s at that point that the notion of privacy is desecrated, losing its purpose, meaning and value.

Would you hand over your social networking credentials to a current or prospective employer? Cast your vote in our poll below.