We all know that employers (current and potential) do Google searches as part of background checks, and in recent years, that includes social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. With new privacy settings for Facebook, however, it is harder to see public posts. So employers have started asking Facebook passwords to get ‘Facebook insider information’.
It has come to light that employers are now directly asking for Facebook passwords to log in at their leisure for ‘background’ checks. Other job candidates have been asked to log into their Facebook pages during the interview or been told to friend an employee at the company. Other employers are a bit more savvy and use third party apps to discover information.
Even if you don’t post party pictures or images of you at a rock concert in crazy attire, the concern is that employers could see pictures of your family and make decisions on job candidates based on how many children you have or if they feel you may be too busy with kids’ football practices. In Massachusetts, it is illegal for an employer to directly ask a job candidate if they are married or have children, for example. However, this new Facebook practice, if you will, may circumvent that and cause a slippery slope. Especially since many job applicants may not know their rights or may be so focused on getting a job that they don’t feel able to say no.
There are pending laws in Illinois and Maryland that would make it illegal for public employers to access personal information, but if this practice continues to grow, as social media grows, some say that there should be a federal law.
What do you think?
UPDATE: See this article about Facebook’s new public stance on the issue.