Looking for a Job? Ready to Share Your Facebook Log-in Info? UPDATE 35

This week, the Associated Press (via Boston.com) reported on companies requesting online log-in information of hopeful job candidates, highlighting Facebook, Twitter, and in some cases, email.

The claims from the organizations employing the tactic

  • Getting to know a candidate thoroughly before making an offer
  • Virtual friends know more than real-life friends, thus being a better resource for background checks
  • “People keep their social profiles updated to the minute, which allows us to consider them for other jobs in the future or for ones that they may not realize are available currently”

The reactions

  • “Akin to requiring someone’s house keys” and “an egregious privacy violation”
  • “A violation of people’s personal privacy”
  • “Volunteering is coercion if you need a job” (in response to companies that say it’s voluntary)

So, the companies think it’s okay, but as for everyone else, maybe not so much. Personally, while I try not to let the online profiles get too questionable (aside from all my Untappd achievements), I have to agree that providing log-in details to a potential employer is a big no-no. I understand wanting to know as much about your candidates as possible, but just because there is more information doesn’t give a recruiter the right to invade a person’s private account. Google is an impressive tool. If your job candidate did a good enough job locking down their personal information, maybe that should speak to their diligence when it comes to keeping personal matters personal.

Also, on the argument that social profiles are up-to-the-minute current, I wonder if these people have ever heard of a company called LinkedIn. It’s kind of a cool idea, where job-seekers can network with other professionals online and post their experience. What really may be of interest to those recruiters is that job-seekers on the site are most likely to have updated résumés! Crazy, right?!

I asked our HR manager, Shana Pressman, what her thoughts were:

As a human resources professional, working in a corporate setting, I have always believed in values such as integrity, respect and trust. This is a clear indication of the type of working environment the company offers to its employees. Of course, employees and applicants should be cognizant of their social activity and how their reputation is developed online; however, an HR professional should never ask for personal property or private information.

I have to agree with her. Sure, there may be some bad apples in the applicant pool, but chances are they will eventually get themselves fired (one way or another). A company that’s asking for access to something that’s kept private for a reason is not an establishment where I’d like to work (luckily, I’m here at Racepoint Group) – even in this tough jobs economy. I’d rather go back to Starbucks. Don’t get all TSA on me, HR.

Could you bear to share your log-in information if it was the difference between being considered for the job and being sent home?

UPDATE: Mashable reports that Facebook isn’t too cool with this concept either, and that it’s going to side with the users on this one:

“This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends,” [Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote on the Facebook Privacy blog. “It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

Two major risks Egan highlighted are realizing age and/or sexual orientation, which could lead to discrimination suits if a candidate doesn’t get the job, and potential evidence that may pertain to a crime – and who doesn’t love having to go testify in court?

I’m glad to see that Facebook is stepping up on this one. They may continually mess with our privacy settings, but at least they’re going to be the only ones who can do that – even if it means taking legal action.

We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.

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