Intrusive much? Just in case I wasn’t disturbed enough by the survey (reported in yesterday’s Social Graf) which found that one out of five tech companies have rejected a job applicant because of something in their social media profile, now it turns out that some employers are asking potential employees for their Facebook profile passwords as part of the job interview process.
Apparently in a down economy employers can pretty much get away with murder, or at least gross violations of basic personal privacy. In some cases cited by FoxNews.com, employers including the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services have asked for passwords to profiles that aren’t visible to the general public so they can snoop for incriminating content — in effect punishing job applicants who, one might think, ought instead to be rewarded for their probity. In a slightly less intrusive version, employers ask applicants to log in to their profiles during the interview.
According to the same report, other employers force employees to become online “friends” with the human resources manager, resulting in a situation so horribly awkward it could only transpire in the movie “Office Space” — except it’s real. And contractual agreements not to post negative comments about the employer are now commonplace.
Public agencies in Illinois and Maryland, at least, may be prohibited from asking for job applicants’ Facebook profile passwords by new state laws. But it’s not clear whether any rules can effectively restrain private sector employers from demanding this kind of information. Job applicants are free to withdraw their applications if they don’t want to share access to their profiles, and “voluntary” sharing of passwords, while discouraged by social network user agreements, is unlikely to run afoul of the law.
In conclusion: God help us.