Employers want account passwords: what would you do?

By Nicole Gennarelli

Employers asking job applicants for their account passwords is becoming frequent in today’s job market. Is it appropriate or a complete invasion of privacy?

Facebook Isn’t Suing Employers Who Ask for Your Password…Yet states that Facebook had a strong opinion towards employers who asked for applicant or current employee’s account passwords. It would involve policy makers or even legal action to protect the privacy of its users. However, according to the article, Facebook has issued a less threatening statement:

We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s right the thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users.”

This issue has warranted attention from legislation in Maryland and Illinois where it’s proposed to forbid public agencies to continue this practice. According to the article, “Since the report was published, two U.S. senators have asked the Attorney General to investigate whether requesting Facebook passwords during job interviews violates federal law. One of those Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) plans to introduce a bill that would prevent companies from snooping on employees’ social media profiles, and California State Senator Leland Yee announced he would introduce a similar bill in California’s senate.”

This ethical issue stirred up a debate of privacy. Can employers legally ask you for private information? If yes, would you give it to them?

Although I am not entering the working world right away and have chosen to continue my education in graduate school, I am a recent college graduate. I feel that asking a future employee to disclose his/her password to an Email, Facebook, Twitter, or any type of account is unprofessional and an invasion of personal privacy. I understand employers concern about hiring someone who posts negative or compromising information or photos on a social media account. While I believe it’s smart to only post things online you are comfortable showing all your friends, it’s your own personal account, not a work account. Sometimes, I think it’s best for people to keep their social media accounts separate from any work-related activity. By granting others access to your accounts, it’s not only an invasion of your privacy but an invasion of all your friends & contacts privacy as well.

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