Want a Job? Hand Over Your Facebook and Twitter Passwords

by Evil HR Lady on February 23, 2011

Should a company be allowed to require employees to turn over their Facebook passwords? Absolutely not.

Want a Job? Hand Over Your Facebook and Twitter Passwords

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

williamthecoroner February 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Password? That's giving them permission to be you. No way do they get the password. I can't ever see that that would be a reasonable request. An analogy is wanting your ATM pin # to do a credit check.

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Dan Brown February 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Ya, no kidding on this. If an employer NEEDS a password, especially to something as trivial as Facebook, they aren't going to be my employer as far as I'm concerned.

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Film Co. Lawyer February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Absolutely not! When did the employer become Mommy & employees become children? Furthermore, you can bet some employer would try engaging in identity theft if they didn't like you or wanted to sabotage your career. What's to stop one from posting dirty pictures of you or making you look bad (say, anti-employer comments) to then turn around & fire you?

Even some of the junk that people have been fired over is going too far in my book so this really tears it for me. My husband doesn't even have that password so my simple answer would be "H-E-double hockey sticks NO!"

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Mike C. February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

One thing I'd like to point out is that on many sites like Twitter and Facebook, handing out your password to others (court orders not withstanding) is a direct violation of their terms of service and could result in having your account yanked.

So what happens when a potential employer finds out legally touchy things? Say, private messages to close friends and family that a pregnancy was just confirmed?

I mean christ, this is just asking for trouble before you get into the privacy concerns!

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Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Rather than suing over this policy, I would have thought a better approach would be to use it to his advantage. Set up a FaceBook/Twitter etc. account in his boss' name. People need to spend less time with their lawyers, and more time watching Kind Hearts and Coronets.

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Another Evil HR Director February 24, 2011 at 11:51 am

It's unfortunate that some employers get so out of control and do things like this, that makes people think ALL employers are like this! Of course demanding personal information that has nothing to do with job performance is ridiculous. Like others have intimated (among other things too numerous to count) this would give the employer information they really don't want or need and could put them at risk of being accused of some form discimination simply because they HAVE the information. Unintended consequences can be deadly.

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Charles February 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Okay, I'll be the dissenter here.

This isn't just some "company" as so many are saying – this is LAW ENFORCEMENT.

Security is paramount. If you don't want to agree to this background check then don't work there or don't have social media accounts. Period.

The public's safety comes before the privacy of those responsible for providing that safety.

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Suzanne Lucas February 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Charles,

I'm in favor of public safety. Honestly I am. But, explain to me how this invasion of privacy is helpful.

Should law enforcement officers not be entitled to some privacy? What about their friends?

If law enforcement had, for years, required applicants to turn over all correspondence then this might make sense as a continuing policy. But, I don't think that's the case.

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Film Co. Lawyer February 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Thank you, Another Evil HR Director for stating what I have been saying for ages about doing online research on people before giving interviews. The amount of Craig's List ads I see on a regular basis asking applicants for pictures for jobs having NOTHING to do with looks is disgusting + makes your business instantly lose credibility with me.

There was even a discussion on a legal blog where people were in favor of putting their pictures on resumes & how it may be becoming the new standard in attorney hiring by law firms.

I asked those individuals why they wanted to open themselves up to discrimination in hiring, especially when law firms are notorious for being unfair to women, minorities & anyone who isn't a white male.

And Charles, I know someone who works in the legal sector for the federal government & to my knowledge was never required to give out that type of information. Even big law firms & state licensing boards for lawyers aren't asking for this & lawyers handle a LOT of confidential information that could affect public safety.

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KellyK February 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Charles, while I agree that law enforcement and certain government jobs have a higher need for information to be gathered about the applicants, handing over a password, in addition to violating the TOS, is violating the privacy of not just the applicant but all of their Facebook friends. Should they be required to hand over all e-mail correspondence, physical letters, and their diaries too?

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Anonymous February 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm

If one wants to use an analogy of facebook as a social meeting space (private with messaging), what's the difference in asking to have a camera in their house, listen to all phone calls and go through the mail? Sound crazy? Yes.

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Anonymous February 24, 2011 at 8:53 pm

But is there really an expectation of privacy on Facebook? It's not as if Facebook's customers want there to be any privacy controls at all. That much is entirely obvious.

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Another Evil HR Director February 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

@Anonymous: You're absolutley right, there really should be no myth of expectation of privacy of anything you post online. However, the real question here is what's job related and what's not and what's an unrealistic instrusion into an applicant's personal life. We're not talking about criminal background checks which gather publically avaiable information through the courts, that might be relavent to a job someone's seeking. It's not really different than an employer discriminating against someone whoe engages in legal behavior outside of work, but that the employer has decided it doesn't like (i.e., smoking, etc.)

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Anonymous February 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I don't agree with the 'security concern' arguement above either. My last job required a government security clearance, which included providing information on my household income and household debt, but did not include any request for personal passwords. However, I don't live in the US, and I understand my country has much stronger privacy laws which may prohibit requesting this kind of information. Or perhaps those organisations with *real* security reasons for needing this information can access it by asking Facebook/Twitter?

I don't have Twitter or Facebook accounts, but even if I did, I'd prefer to close them down than provide the password to someone else.

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