Should employers get in potential employees ‘beeswax?’
Posted on March 28, 2012
We’ve (hopefully) all taken the standard advice, to watch what you post and take full advantage of the website’s privacy settings to limit the visibility of these posts. But is this enough?
There’s a bubbling trend of employers demanding access to an employee’s private- or friend-level postings. In a recent Associated Press article, Justin Bassett tells about a recent interview where the interviewer asked for his Facebook username and password.
Bassett, a NYC statistician, 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 quickly refused and withdrew his application, saying he did not want to work somewhere that would request such personal information. Unfortunately, even as the job market improves, some job seekers cannot afford to say no to such requests.
This is wrong. More and more workplaces are demanding applicants either grant the job interviewer “friend” status, allowing them to thumb through prospective employers’ postings and photos, or turn over usernames and passwords. This invasion of privacy allows employers to delve deeply into not only the applicant’s public and semi-private postings, but his or her messages, requests and other very personal data.
Once employees start handing over their login information, what’s next? Keys to their houses?
Even Facebook knows this is wrong and in fact against the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Facebook has vowed to stop employers from requesting access to their potential and current employees’ otherwise private accounts.
”This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, wrote on the Facebook Privacy blog. “It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”
We live in a social society, but it is still new to the majority of users. All of the rules and lines that shouldn’t be crossed are being written as we go. Facebook threatened legal action against those who violated its policy against sharing passwords. Even if these were clumsy mistakes from misguided organizations, it still should not have happened in my opinion. The idea that schools and employers might ask or possibly even require us to open our online diaries is unsettling, to say the least.
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– Sarah Funderburk