I’ve been writing about social media for a while now, particularly how employers are utilizing social media profiles as a screening tool. I thought I had heard it all regarding social media background searches until I read this article.
A recent report by The Globe and Mail covers one employer who recently resorted to asking a potential job applicant for their Facebook account login credentials. The employer had attempted to review the applicant’s Facebook profile but found that it was set to “private” (very little information is available to the public when an account is set to private. When the employer realized that they would not be able to closely review the applicant’s Facebook profile on their own, they literally asked the applicant to provide his username and password information to his account.
Fortunately, the applicant recognized this breach of privacy and immediately refused his prospective employer’s request, stating that he didn’t want to work for a company that would request such personal identifiable information and withdrew his application for employment.
Yet this wasn’t the case for another job applicant that was seeking a position at a security company. During the interview process, the employer wanted to view the applicant’s Facebook profile to see if he was affiliated with any street gangs. As in the previous example, the employer recognized that they could not gain access to the information in the applicant’s Facebook profile on their own and requested the applicant provide login information from applicant. In this case, the applicant did provide his login information for the simple fact that he needed a job to provide for his family. In response to both of these cases, Maryland and Illinois have proposed legislation that would prohibit public agencies from requesting social media access.
In addition, Facebook has publicly responded and is on the side of their users, claiming that simply giving out one’s login credentials is a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.[printfriendly]