Facebook to Employers: Don’t Ask For Passwords

Facebook to Employers: Don’t Ask For Passwords

Facebook has made their stance clear on the issue of interviewers asking potential hires for Facebook login information – don’t do it.  Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer stated that  “If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends.  As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job.”

We agree wholeheartedly, and it sounds like you do too.  When asked, Trackur fans on Twitter called this practice everything from inappropriate to disgusting and unethical.  

With respect to the privacy of MY Facebook friends, I won’t post the conversation we had about it on my wall, but I do have to share a few great points:

  • From Trackur CEO Andy Beal (yup, I broke rule #1.  I’m friends with my boss on Facebook.  In all fairness, we were friends before he invited me over to Trackur.  I didn’t have the heart to cut him loose 😉  My strategy?  Overwhelm him with pictures of food, baby stuff, and girlie talk.  My guess is he’s got me hidden from his feed by now.  I’m a notorious over-sharer. ) “If you have to ask, you’re doing something wrong. Either your interview skills are shoddy, or you’re worried that an employee will say something about how bad you run your business.”
  • A fashion industry insider (and all around expert on all things fun) said “All I know, is if a company wanted my passwords, I would highly question their ethics to request something that personal. I would never work for somene like that….no matter how bad the economy is.”
  • Search industry expert Carrie Hill, when asked about checking out user profiles of job candidates, stated ” what i was looking for was privacy settings – if they’re going to be crazy on FB that’s fine – but lock it down, people. I was also hiring for someone in online marketing – so understanding how privacy, etc works is an important skill.”
  • Network Engineer David Slaughter feels that ” it’s an invasion of my privacy but even more so of my friends privacy” -this brings up an interesting point. Just how much access would this person have by accessing your profile?  They could see your friends, friends of friends, and even some of their friends.  This could open them up to a whole slew of legal ramifications that most interviewers are not equipped to handle.  Facebook’s Egan goes on to say that “the employer may assume liability for the protection of the information they have seen.”  Do you want that liability?  Methinks no.

The comments went on and on, with not one single vote in support of this questionable practice.  I spoke with business owners, hiring managers, employees, students, tech geeks, and socially savvy marketers.  One friend even went on to say that if this became common practice, she’d simply set up a second profile for potential employers to look at that was very carefully engineered.  How’s that for starting a new relationship with trust and honesty?  Employers, be careful what you ask for in a “perfect” job candidate – you just might get exactly that.