Recently, in March of 2012, many have heard about the issue of Employers asking Applicants for their username and password to gain access to their private Facebook account. There is a place to draw the line between employers and Facebook privacy. Social Media sites are becoming more popular and used by people of all age groups, Ethnicity, Religions, Sexual Orientation, and other groups that are protected under law here in the United States. As a professional, I understand that employers want to be certain about the job candidate before they hire them and want to lower their risk of hiring a “bad apple”. As a professional I do not agree with violating an individual’s right to privacy for the purpose of offering employment. In my own personal opinion I feel that this invasion of privacy crosses the boundary between right and wrong.
As an Internet Marketing company we often require personal access to social media sites for the purpose of promoting our clients. With access to such private information comes a huge legal and moral responsibility. We are obligated to protect all private information we have access to. There are contractual agreements made between us and our clients. We never ask for information we do not need to meet our requirements. We simply stick to a need to know basis with our clients. An employer does not need to know every personal detail about an employee. All an employer needs to know is if the applicant is dependable, capable of fulfilling the job requirements, meets the education, certification, or has proper documentation to perform all of the job duties, references check out, I can even understand a background check for certain types of jobs. There is an explicit line between employers and Facebook privacy that should be respected.
If we reverse the role, How would an employer respond to the applicant requiring the employer to give the applicant access to all of the private financial records of the company as well as any information and documentation regarding its affiliation with other companies which would also reveal all company secrets? After all it would be for the purpose of the applicant’s decision to be an employed by the employer. An employee takes a risk of bounced paychecks, being laid off for company cutbacks due to financial difficulties, as well as simply being left unemployed because an employer filed bankruptcy and simply went out of business without even a simple notice to let the employees know not to to come in for work the following day. (Yes, these issues have actually happened to me and other employees I have known). How would the employer respond to such a request? Any Employer asking for an applicant’s Facebook username and password (or to any private online tools including email) is unethical. Facebook’s Chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, had a response to this outrageous violation of privacy. Check out the response here.
Simply put, if an employer asked me for my login information to grant them full access to anything that holds any of my own personal information with no affiliation with the employer, my response will be to ask the employer for full access to their bank accounts and credit cards. To me that would be a fair exchange of information. If an employer can not access the information through public means, then they don’t have the right to access it. If it came down to it and I was in desperate need of employment and it is common practice and considered acceptable for an employer to ask for such information here is what I would do.
1. Delete every single online account I have. This would include ALL social media sites and my personal email.
2. I would create an impeccable character with my name, by creating fake profiles and emails all over the internet that contain ONLY information that I desire an employer to see. These fake accounts would be the ones I would grant access to. If it came down to it, I would simply just eliminate accounts that an employer could use against me or want to access. At this point, I would create an email and other accounts for the sole purpose of job seeking.
I truly feel it is a shame when people can not even have limited privacy on their own social media sites. What are they going to ask for next? Access to an applicant’s private text messages? There is never a reason to cross that line regarding employers and Facebook privacy.