Intern Mauri is back and addressing this recent controversy - the practice that has some employers asking for employees/prospective employees Facebook passwords. Yipes.
The latest Facebook controversy – is it ethical for prospective employers to ask for an applicant’s
News sites have been buzzing during the past few days about a new privacy issue facing social
The issue came to light after the Associated Press reported on one particular job applicant
named Justin Bassett, a New York-based statistician who was asked for his Facebook password during a
job interview. Apparently the interviewer had done a quick search for Justin’s personal Facebook page;
upon finding it private, she then asked him to provide his information so that she could log in to his page
herself. According to the AP story, this isn’t just a one-time thing: some employers have made it part of
their hiring practice to request an applicant’s passwords to social media sites.
Since its inception, social media has brought up numerous questions about privacy. How much
should be made public? How careful should people be about what they post? Will I be judged by my
employers by what I post on my private page? Many of us already know that social media sites are
valuable tools when trying to determine a job applicant’s skills, experience and especially their ability to
fit into a company’s internal culture. Those of us searching for jobs are well aware that our sites are
going to be browsed for a glimpse into our value as an employee.
But does asking for personal passwords, when a social media page is intentionally made private,
go too far?
One side of the debate says yes, asking for someone else’s password is an invasion of one’s
personal privacy. Some on the side of this argument say they’re happy to “friend,” “connect with,”
or “follow” a prospective employer, but they don’t want to give out their own personal password.
Others say absolutely not: what they post, say or do on social media is private and part of their personal
lives, and should not reflect their worth as a job candidate.
The other side of the debate states that employers need to know they are making the best
choice when selecting a new employee. The more they know about a person, the better informed they
are about how that person will perform. Companies may also want to know if a job applicant will project
the right image for their company. The abundance of information one shares on his or her social media
page, from photos to posts to one’s personal interests and likes, serves as an additional tool for
companies when selecting from a vast pool of job candidates.
A corresponding argument says that no one should have an expectation of privacy on the
Internet: anything anyone posts can be accessed in a variety of ways, and may be accessible forever.
How this latest social media privacy issue plays out remains to be seen, but it makes one thing
clear now more than ever: the Internet has transformed our lives, not just in the way we access
information but also in the way others access information about us.
What do you think? If you’re an employer, do you check the social media sites of prospective
employees and, if so, do you agree or disagree that asking for passwords is an invasion of privacy? If
you’re an employee, do you feel this is an invasion of your privacy? Let us know.