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Prospective Employers Are Demanding Social Media Passwords

Apparently, this is becoming rather commonplace: you show up at a job interview and things seem to be going well until the person running the interview say, “So, we just need your Facebook and Twitter passwords and we’ll get back to you.”

Wait, what?

I’m not gonna lie to you: I’d never get hired at a place like that for two reasons; first because I’d absolutely refuse, and two have you seen my Twitter stream? YIKES.

There are a couple of problems with this scenario, of course. First? It is likely not legal to demand social media passwords as a requirement for being hired, according to this CBS interview with Jeffrey Hancock, Chairman of the Information Science Department at Cornell University. Secondly, regardless of the legality, there is no denying it is a massive violation of privacy.

Naturally, the ACLU is already tackling this one. ACLU attorney Catherine Crump states:

It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process.  People are entitled to their private lives. You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account.

Some companies are getting around the potential legalities by instead having potential employees log into their accounts during the interview while the interviewer looks over your shoulder, or demanding you “friend” someone in their human resources department. No matter how you look at it, though, it’s still a violation.

Interestingly enough, Facebook actually considers it a violation of its terms of service to give out your password. Not only that, but the Department of Justice regards entering someone else’s social networks while violating the terms of service to be a federal crime (one they are unlikely to prosecute, sadly).

The saddest thing about this, of course, is even as our economy improves bit by bit, there are still so many people that are desperate for work that they have no choice but to hand the passwords and cross their fingers that their possible boss will think it’s fine to have a beer at a picnic in the middle of a weekend day or that they won’t be offended by your anti-Rush-Limbaugh rants. Perhaps if you’re in the job market the best thing to do is to go ahead and clean up everything you’ve shared over the last, oh, six years or so?

What do you think? Would you be willing to hand those passwords over for the right job?

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