Could employers begin asking for Facebook passwords on applications?

Mike Wehner, Tecca
Technology News Blog

For all the good it can do, social networking also has its share of downsides. Putting personal information of any kind on the internet raises plenty of privacy concerns on its own, and handing over your username and password can be like giving away the keys to your very identity. But if you're in the process of seeking new employment, that may be exactly what you'll have to do.

The image below is a snapshot of an application from North Carolina for a clerical position at a police department. One of the required pieces of information is a disclosure of any social networking accounts, along with the username and password to access them.

You don't have to be a security expert to realize that asking for such information is out of the ordinary. Depending on how much detail and private information you choose to post on Facebook, Google+, or MySpace, relinquishing your password would allow your would-be employer to investigate every area of your life. Aside from status updates that may be secured for only friends to view, logging in to your account provides access to private messages, chat logs, and any number of other potentially damaging tidbits.

We've known for a while that companies often scour social networks when considering a new employee, so keeping party photos and scandalous posts out of the public eye is well advised. And while this particular application appears — for now, at least — to be an isolated case of an employer overreaching their bounds, it highlights a growing problem with social network privacy.

Sites like Facebook have become a one-stop-shop to learn anything and everything about a person. For anyone — especially a company or potential employer — to casually request access to that information is as bold as asking for a copy of person's house keys. Would you agree to a full search of your home and worldly possessions in order to land a job? If the answer is no, then you should be just as hesitant to let someone rummage around inside your online identity.

[Image credit: SportzTawk]

This article originally appeared on Tecca

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