By now you’ve probably heard of some employer who is asking potential employees for access to their Facebook accounts as a condition of employment. It’s become widespread enough that Maryland recently became the first state to prohibit employers from asking employees and applicants for social media passwords and login information. The law would prohibit an employer from taking or threatening any form of adverse action based on an employee’s or job applicant‘s refusal to provide a user name or password to a personal account. Senators from New York and Connecticut are moving towards doing something similar on a national level. Think this is just hypothetic? A teacher’s aide in Michigan was let go from her job after a school administrator demanded that she turn over her Facebook password and she refused. I have two thoughts and would love to hear yours.
First – good for the legislature. Second – how pathetic are the employers who would do this and how desperate have the folks become who feel they must acquiesce?
I’ve hired many people over the years, most of them before Facebook (or the Internet). While I’ll admit there were a couple of duds in the mix, I wouldn’t have figured that out had I had access to their personal relationships, photos of them on their own time, or an understanding of what videos they watched, music they played, or articles they read. To me this is the equivalent of demanding the keys to someone’s home to do a complete search of their wardrobe, their books, their medicine cabinet, and their kitchen. None of that is necessary to do a good hire and asking about some of it is already illegal.
Yes, it’s important to check out prospective employees, and that’s way easier today than it has ever been. Most people are careless about leaving footprints in cyberspace and it’s relatively easy to find out if the candidate who says they are one thing are, in fact, something quite different. For those who are careful, there are services available – as there have always been – to help with background checks. Frankly, anyone evil enough to tell big lies about themselves is probably crafty enough to keep the lies off the web. Besides – even if my buddy says you can check out his Facebook mail, I didn’t give you permission to look at what I sent him – that’s another set of issues completely.
What do you think – would you ever give up access to your account to get a job? Would you ever demand that access before you hire someone?