Employers Asking for Facebook Passwords May Be Unethical, Illegal

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your greatest strength? What’s your biggest weakness? What’s your Facebook password?

Come again?

In a world where social media has taken over communication in a form similar to that of King Kong hovering over New York City from the top of the Empire State Building, how much room is there for privacy in the realm of Facebook profiles? We all know that anything you “share” on your Facebook is out in the open, but have we thought about prospective employers looking through what is not shared?

Despite the unreasonable nature of such a request, people are handing over their passwords at a time when job competition is so fierce and applicants are trying to show they have “nothing to hide.” But is this really the way things should be? Are we expected to just hand over the password in our “defense,” and if so, where will it end?

I cannot help but find this wrong from a moral and legal perspective. Would you give the keys to your household to an employer? I know I wouldn’t, so why should I have to hand over the “keys” to my Facebook account—or on that note, other sites like LinkedIn or Twitter?

The Fourth Amendment reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Although this was written particularly to restrain the government, it echoes a basic value our society is built upon. Despite the principles of our nation, an employer can ask for a user’s Facebook password in a job interview, but hopefully this will change soon. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and New York Senator Charles Schumer, plan to introduce legislation prohibiting interviewers from asking for passwords to social media accounts.

We are told at work that we cannot release our credentials, even to IT staff for fear of security issues. Additionally, it is already against Facebook’s terms of service to share a password: “You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account,” the agreement reads. Facebook has already said that it will take legal action against employers who request such information.

This topic has surely gained popularity, and is spreading over the web because it affects such a large portion of society. Most people have social networking profiles, and today’s generation is struggling to find out the role of the web and employment in their careers.

Read more on employers requesting Facebook passwords here.