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Employers Asking for Facebook Passwords

Last week, the Internet seemed to explode with news that employers are now asking for Facebook passwords from their employees and potential candidates. Virtually every person under the age of 30 responded with various outpourings of rage.

I’m not sure why, but I am one of those people addicted to wasting time on Facebook. I do my best to police my profile page in an effort to make the available information best represent who I am and what I believe. My page has nothing to hide, and yet I’m sure there is content that some companies would not want representing them. We all swear- it’s the Internet for crying out loud- we all talk about our problems or post strong beliefs, small things that our friends enjoy but a hiring manager might not think is funny. Which is why some of us, myself included, utilize privacy settings for people who are not our “friends.”

Companies know this. The article points out a new trend that in order to circumnavigate this problem, hiring managers are asking candidates during the interview for their passwords. Any college student met with this is immediately going to stutter and attempt to process the request. Reactions will be vary, some will, hopefully, politely refuse and withdraw the application and others will simply rage and storm out. There might be some who hand over the information willingly, but judging by the responses that I am seeing online I do not see that being the case.

Right now there are stories popping up like daisies in Spring detailing personal experiences and investigations about this matter. I will admit, I was one of those enraged users who showcased frustration over this new practice. I am of the belief that this an invasion of privacy, and I agree with the statement Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor made in the article about this practice as “an egregious privacy violation…akin to requiring someone’s house keys.”

However, as opposed to this practice as I am, I cannot openly say it is in your best interest to downright refuse to hand over your password and leave. A job is a job. In this economy and with the rising costs of tuition and living expenses, can you really afford to turn down a paid position? Ask yourself that question. Review how long it took you to land an interview, and ask yourself if you can wait that long again for another chance.

Remember, though that there are ways around it. You can always change your name so companies cannot find you, make yourself not searchable, and give your profile a thorough scrubbing. You can also reset your password after the interview so they can’t revisit your page, or you could have some fun with it and get creative with passwords- for obvious reasons I will not express what I mean by creative but you’re clever enough to figure it out. Don’t insult the hiring manager, that’s never a good idea, but if you show some quirkiness or humor then it puts it out there that you are relaxed about the process and eases their minds.

Think about this: it could be that this was not the idea of the hiring manager him/herself but rather a new company policy out of their control. They might be just as uncomfortable about it as you. But if you showcase some willingness to go along with it, they might relax and put to ease any tension. Of course this is just a theory, it may not actually hold true 100 percent of the time. There are a lot theories that did not pan out as planned: Lone Gunman, Communism, the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program. (Too soon?)

What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments section below, tweet me or send me an email to let me know what you’re thinking about this new practice.

EDITORIAL UPDATE: News from POLITICO: Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) is composing a bill to outlaw the practice, stating that  those kind of requests from prospective employers amount to an “unreasonable invasion of privacy” for those looking for work. Blumenthal said it ought to be prohibited, just like other banned employment practices such as administering polygraph tests to screen applicants. Read the entire article here. Write to your representatives with your responses. Get involved in the process and make a difference.

Questions? Ideas or suggestions? Follow me on twitter @ChrisComella or email me at [email protected]


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Christopher Comella

Christopher earned his BA in Political Science from DePaul University in 2011, and is no stranger to writing and deadlines. One of his greatest assets is to add humor to even the driest of subjects, which is why half of his professors love him and the other half hated his work.

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