Should employers be able to ask for employee’s Facebook passwords?

An AP story reported last month a situation in which a company asked a potential hire for their password after learning that their Facebook account was set to private.







Many people are up in arms about the invasion of privacy, calling it ludicrous and unreasonable for management to think they can access an employee’s social media accounts. While it makes sense that a company wouldn’t want to hire somebody who could potentially be a detriment to their image, there are other factors at play here than how someone conducts themselves on  Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

There is, however, a minority of people who actually see the upside to this. A 2010 survey of US recruiters and human-resource professionals from Microsoft said: “The percentage of employers who say a positive online presence influences hiring decisions outweighs those who say they’ve rejected candidates they’ve found online.”

Maybe it’s bad and maybe it’s good, but this could one day become just another question potential hires have to be ready for in an interview, just like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What’s your biggest weakness?”

Questions have been raised about the legality of the practice, which is also the focus of proposed legislation in Illinois and Maryland that would forbid public agencies from asking for access to social networks.

Where do you stand on this issue? Is it right for employers to ask for social media passwords? Leave your comments, below.


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3 Responses to Should employers be able to ask for employee’s Facebook passwords?

  1. Josh May 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Logging in with a username and password provides a means of authentication, to verify the person accessing the website is indeed the user he/she claims to be.

    Many websites probably forbid sharing your username and password in their terms of use for this reason. It defeats the purpose of authentication. I have a big problem with giving out passwords for this reason. For that matter, I balk when an IT person in my company asks me for my password.

    I guess if a company really wanted access to a user’s FB account, why not ask the employee to set their privacy such that the HR user at the company can view everything / most things? Perhaps FB could have a way to show the HR user that they have permission to view all of the employee’s content.

    • Tek-Tips May 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      This was all figured out, the Privacy question that is, back in the nineties. The pioneers identified Permission Marketing, and libraries of books were written on it and intuition, it turns out, was the only thing necessary to figure out how to “build community.” Then the advertising industry realized they were losing leverage, and they all went out and bought most of the state legislatures and the entire Congress, and several administrations, along with the FAA, FCC, SEC etc.

  2. zeezero May 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    This is a huge invasion of privacy. Your employer may as well ask you to bring in all of your old vacation photo albums to make sure there was nothing going on before they hire you…..

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