Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Job applicants shouldn't have to 'friend' bosses

Prospective employers typically ask job applicants for references. But in the age of the Internet, some want much more. In a chilling disregard for privacy rights, some companies are requiring job seekers to turn over their Facebook passwords during the hiring process.

Job applicants shouldn't have to 'friend' bosses

Prospective employers typically ask job applicants for references. But in the age of the  Internet, some want much more. In a chilling disregard for  privacy rights, some companies are requiring job seekers to turn over their Facebook passwords during the hiring process.

And in a competitive market amid a sluggish economy, many job seekers may feel that they have no choice but to share access to personal information on the popular social media site. The disturbing practice violates a basic Internet principle: Never disclose your password.

The demand may be perfectly legal, though that’s questionable. It’s a total invasion of privacy that should be prohibited. Toward that end, some members of Congress have correctly asked the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether the practice violates federal laws.

With access to a Facebook profile, an employer can review personal information such as a person’s age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion — statuses protected under employment law. Current law, however, may need updating, so Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) say they will propose whatever measures are needed to block employers from snooping on applicants by demanding access to their social-media passwords.

Is it OK for employers to demand Facebook passwords from job applicants?
No, it's a total invasion of privacy
Yes, might as well see those spring break pics now, not later
No, only if the interviewer agrees to 'friend' you, too
Yes, will make more people smarter about what they post

Meanwhile, Facebook has warned employers not to ask job applicants for the passwords to that site. The company threatened legal action for violating its policy against sharing passwords.

It is not surprising that employers would want to troll the Internet to check out job applicants. And no one should expect postings made in the public realm to be kept completely private. But requiring access to passwords and other information that is not publicly available should not be a condition of employment.

About this blog

The Inquirer Editorial Board's Say What? opinion blog showcases the work of the editors and writers who produce the newspaper's daily and Sunday opinion pages.

Find out more about The Inquirer's Editorial Board here.

The Inquirer Editorial Board
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected