Stories like this one, have stirred up quite a buzz about the legality and ethics of employers asking job candidates to provide Facebook login information as a condition of employment. I spoke to News Channel 15’s Elizabeth Fields about this controversy as part of a story that aired last night. In addition to my comments in the video above, here are a few additional thoughts:
- As many people have pointed out, this practice technically violates Facebook’s Terms of Service, which prohibit users from sharing their passwords.
- We live in a time where our professional and personal lives intersect more and more. It’s up to all of us to decide, individually, when the blurring of lines gets to be a little too much. It’s one thing to answer a few work related emails on the weekend, and quite another to concede to letting your employer peek through the virtual curtains. This definitely seems like a case where things have gone a little too far.
- Obviously, every place of employment is a little different. But I don’t think social media changes the pure respect for privacy that each of us deserves. It’s true that law enforcement agencies, for example, have a special responsibility to screen candidates even more closely than other employers. But I don’t think that gives them the right to have no standards when it comes to respecting their employees’ privacy.
- There’s a responsibility on both sides. Employees and job candidates need to know that anything they share via social media, even what they perceive to be private, can become public if they’re not careful. Employers have the responsibility to screen candidates, but they also have an obligation to respect the employee’s right to keep his or her private life private.
I haven’t heard anyone make an argument in favor of this practice, but I’m interested in your thoughts. Do you think there are any cases where it’s reasonable for employers to ask job candidates to share passwords as a condition of employment? If so, why?