COMMENTARY | When it comes to privacy, we, as Americans, are not afforded much of it, and with the latest news that employers are asking for Facebook and social media passwords in order to further check potential employee backgrounds, our privacy just got a little smaller.
Thankfully, Facebook issued an announcement that employers should not ask for passwords.
As an individual who likes her privacy, I would not give my Facebook, Twitter or email passwords to anyone. Those are my passwords. Those are my accounts, and I intend for them to remain under my complete control. Therefore, I would refuse any request to give those passwords to a potential employer.
Employers already have numerous ways they can investigate me. They can run a background check. They can pull my driving records. They can drug test me. They can search my name online. They can run a credit check to see how well I handle my finances, or rather, how well I've handled my finances in the past. I suppose if they wanted to send someone out to record the VIN number and license plate on my car, they could do that while I was in the interview, and they can run my Social Security number through E-verify.
Employers do not need another way to verify potential employees. If they can't glean the information they need from the sources they already have, then there is something wrong with the employer. Furthermore, online security depends on the ability of the user to keep their passwords confidential, and handing them to an employer to type into their work computer is not keeping those passwords secure. That work computer could have keystroke tracking software which would send that password straight to the mainframe.
I'll even tell you how I would handle that question. I would calmly tell the interviewer that my passwords and the information in my social media accounts are confidential. I would also ask them if they had another question for me that would help them determine my fitness for the job. If the employer didn't have another question or continued to press for my passwords, I would politely end the interview and thank them for their time. Any employer that needs my password to check my character when they are already talking to me face-to-face is not an employer I want to work for.
The problem, of course, is that in order to survive we need to work. Working pays the bills, and for someone short on funds, they may just need the job bad enough to hand over their passwords regardless of the consequences. That is where Facebook's statement comes in handy. Facebook does not condone the handing out of passwords to anyone, and the act of doing so can cause the account to be closed. If the employer won't take no for an answer, simply state that it is against Facebook's policy to hand out your password.