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Job Seeker Asked for Facebook Password?

March 22nd, 2012

Have you heard of this?  It’s been in the headlines recently.

What do you do if, in an interview, you are asked for your Facebook password?

RUN.

Walk out.

Leave.

It seems that if that’s how the relationship is going to start, it’s going to be abusive.

Strong language, right?  Who would think their employer would abuse them?

If someone asks me for something like that, I’d question their personal ethics, and wonder what kind of work environment they are in that would even allow such a question.

It’s a red flag.  And you deserve better than to be in a hostile or abusive situation.  RUN.

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8 Responses to “Job Seeker Asked for Facebook Password?”

  1. Rita Carey says:

    I know that it seems insulting and an invasion of privacy, but in law enforcement and some other fields it is easier to justify. Like it or not, there are other ways for companies to get this information (such as asking the candidate to log into his FB site) so I tell my clients to simply not put anything online that they would be embarrassed to share.

    As one person said recently, I had to provide my password because I had to have a job and that was a requirement. I suspect that there will be enough push back on this to get companies to stop the practice, but not stop seeking the information…especially in some occupational fields.

  2. Brad Merrill says:

    I heard that on the radio the other day. My first response? Sorry, Charlie.

    I would tell them, I don’t post the kinds of information that they might be looking for. I won’t friend HR either. Not that I am afraid of what they might see, but that really isn’t any of their business. I don’t provide passwords to anyone.

    The following is a response to an email I received last May regarding social media in general. They have a big elaborate policy. (it is a college where I am an adjunct faculty member)

    To whom it may concern:

    I have a web presence on the following:

    LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/bradwmerrill
    twitter: @bradwmerrill
    Word Press blog: http://bradwmerrill.wordpress.com

    I currently am an adjunct faculty member in a job search for a full time position. The LinkedIn profile as been in place since May 2010, the twitter & wordpress accounts since early May 2011. My primary purpose for these is to obtain a FT position in accounting or tax and most of my postings are in that context. The only mention of the college on linkedin is as part of my work history and a link to the college’s website. I rarely if ever, even mention the college in my online activity. While I follow the [college] on twitter I have no intention of ever posting to that. [college twitter]

    My blog has a business focus. The about section reads as follows:

    Brad W. Merrill is the Principal at Brad W. Merrill Accounting and Tax Services, specializing in Sales & Use taxes and accounting for small businesses. He has a B.S. in Accounting from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. In addition he is an Adjunct Faculty member with emphasis in accounting & tax at ["the college"] College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Since these accounts are personal in nature and were pre-existing the policy just sent out I will continue my activities as before. I have no intention of giving up my user name and passwords to these accounts. Any postings to date to either LinkedIn groups, my blog or twitter have always been very general in nature and will continue to be. I do not mention the college by name when making references to experiences I have had. I have given you the addresses of these accounts as a good faith gesture. If you have issues with anything I have done to date, feel free to email or call me and I will make appropriate changes to things as I go forward. Anything already posted I cannot change as that is a “timed” feature.

    Thanks,

    This sums up the way I feel about it in general. I never received a response. (the policy is 1-2 pages long)

  3. Jason Alba says:

    Amen Brad – thank you.

    One of the problems of sharing a PASSWORD is that many people use the same password on multiple systems.

    So, here’s a scary situation:

    I give you my facebook login… then, you go to gmail (you know I use gmail because I’ve emailed you) and see if you can get into my Gmail account with that….. wow, you can!

    Do a quick search for “password” and you will find other sites you can login to as me…

    Now we have a serious, serious breach of security…

    Would a company every do or condone that? Of course not. But the interviewer, or admin, or whoever gets my password, might be ethically challenged. Who are you going to trust.

    Rita, I hear your argument, but I think it’s asking for my password dirty and unethical and it’s a major red flag for me: RUN!

    Related question: if they said “can we get a copy of your house key so we can see how you live?” …. would you do it?

  4. thom singer says:

    While I think asking for a password is totally out of line, I think it is okay for companies to be concerned about what people do and say online. I see many people who embarrass their companies regularly with their posts.

    But your point that someone should RUN if asked to give passwords is spot on. These accounts are personal and owned by individuals.

    A smarter company would have a simple and clear policy and let people know the purpose of the policy.

  5. Steve Duncan says:

    Companies already have access to anything they’re entitled to see regarding statements made about them; The statements aren’t of concern unless they’re public, and if public no passwords are necessary.

    The rest is just an attempt to see what they can get away with.

    I agree with Jason. Run. Then post the experience so others can now what that company is up to.

  6. Jason Alba says:

    @Thom, thanks for your comment. A company checking out to see what they can find on their own is one thing… and I think they can do that all they want (I’m no lawyer or privacy expert). Them asking for login credentials totally crosses any line.

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