By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Technology
As part of the screening process, some employers have requested that applicants hand over access to their social media accounts.
It's obviously difficult to find good work in this economy, but would you ever want a job so bad that you'd hand over the password to your Facebook account? Apparently, some employers don't feel it's too much to ask for.
Recently a woman who was applying to work as a phone operator at a local police department in North Carolina came across a section of the application where one of the questions was whether she belonged to any social networking sites. And as if that wasn't invasive enough, the form further requested that the applicant provide a username and password.
Her husband, who likely became alarmed, posted a snapshot of application on the content sharing site Reddit, which generated thousands of comments within a matter of hours.
Interestingly enough, this isn't as much of a random isolated incident as many people would think. There have been reports of similar cases in Norman, Oklahoma and of a Maryland resident named Robert Collins who was asked to provide his Facebook account information during an interview at a local correctional facility, according to the Human Resources Journal.
Essentially, these employers are seeking the kind of unprecedented access that amounts to divulging some of the most intimate details of an applicant's life, not to mention putting the person at risk for identity theft. Many would obviously question how ethical or even legal is it to request access to private messages, profile information and personal photos.
But with something that can easily be seen as a blatant violation of privacy, authorities have found there to be real justification. “You’re investing these individuals that you hire with the legal authority to arrest people and to, in a worst case scenario, take someone’s life,” an Oklahoma police officer told Human Resources Journal.
Not too long after Collin's interview the American Civil Liberties Union got involved. Here is a snippet of what was written in a letter sent to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services on Collins’ behalf:
“Courts that have been required to address the issue have ruled that wall postings and email on Facebook and other social media sites are protected communications under the SCA [Stored Communications Act], making efforts to access them without proper authorization illegal… Here, there can be little question but that force ‘authorization,’ such as that demanded of Mr. Collins, is not proper authorization under the SCA, given the disparate bargaining power of the employer and the employee or applicant.” The SCA is part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which protects such forms of communication.
The correction facility has since backed off from enforcing such requests, but hasn't banned the practice. In a reply to the ACLU, Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard only said that the agency would continue to look into the matter. While there is a likelihood that the issue will eventually get resolved through the courts, job-hunters need to think twice about whether any job is worth it.
Photo: SportzTawk (Reddit)
(via Human Resources Journal)
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Dec 20, 2011
...the dumbest, most pliant employees possible. I am sure that there are many jobs for which that kind of individual would be perfect.
I see a whole new industry of second accounts in facebook. A specially scrubbed, suitable for parents and prospective employers face page with all the right things on your "walls." Oh yeah, this is just waiting for developement. LOL And no, I do not have a facebook account.
Checking your public Facebook information to see if you are a moron who complains about all his jobs online is one thing, but it has to be illegal for a company to deny you a job because you would not provide them access to a private account. If they ask for your online user id and password for your bank account should you give them that too? It is called private for a reason.
Unless I mis-remember the security agreement that I had to agree that I had read and would abide by in applying for an account, I cannot provide my logon and password to any of those services to any third party. If a company felt comfortable hiring people who would routinely break their contracts when simply asked to do so, would I want to work for those people?
I'll bet that there are quite a few dual accounts on Social Media sites. I've had mine since the inception of Facebook. It started as a mistake, until I realized the utility of my error! The only disadvantage is keeping them in "sync" as they grow larger! I wonder if this makes their IPO worth about half???
Back when I actually bothered with facebook and such.. I had two accounts... One for 'public'.. and one for private. I don't think I've used either one in a few months to a year, because of the simple social idiocy that goes on with them. If a company wants to know about me, they can try to look at my facebook, they'd do better to look at my linkedin.. But best, they can just ASK me about myself. That's what the interview is for. Any company asking me for my social media login and password would get most of the papers thrown back in their face. Sadly, this is the state of corporations and HR today. in the crapper.