The Great Facebook Debate

On a job board the other day, I encountered a poll seeking opinions about employers requesting Facebook log-in information from job applicants.

Really? We’re still having this discussion? In 2013? Several states, including mine, have already outlawed employers requesting social media log-in information from applicants; in Maryland in fact, you can’t even ask for a user name.  The EEOC is taking a harder stance about background checks in general. The NLRB has frequently reminded us that employees have a right to engage in “concerted activity” on social media. As citizens, we are  more concerned about the privacy of our information than ever. On top of that, let’s think of all the information that could come to surface which might involve protected class (e.g., disability, pregnancy, national origin, religion).

Even more frightening, let’s think about non-protected behaviors, everyday goofy/obnoxious/questionable judgment/off-putting behavior, such as an unusually strong affinity for profanity or alcohol; the apparent need to blame others while portraying oneself  as an innocent victim in every single challenging situation;  TMI, racy photos, etc. And so much more. You know what I mean. What do you as a hiring manager or recruiter when you see that information? And how do you document your hiring decisions?

And then there’s the small detail that you may be making decisions based on the wrong profile. There are a lot of Paul Smith’s on Facebook, after all. I’ve told my HR staff to stay away from Facebook but LinkedIn is fair game.

Anyway, if I wrote an opinion poll, it would go like this:

A potential future employer asks for your Facebook log-in and password. How do you respond? (Please select the option most closely matching your reaction.)

  1. It’s no problem. After all, what do I have to hide?
  2. It’s no problem. As a narcissist, I’m just grateful for a chance to disseminate my awesomeness to more people. And maybe they’ll subscribe to my feed!
  3. It’s no problem. I have nothing to hide. Except, whoops, the fact that other than the  cute pictures I share of other people’s puppies and kitties, I don’t actually  have much of a life.  Let me think a little more and get back to you.
  4. I might do it if my back was really up against the wall. But I would resent the hell out of it.
  5. It depends. Maybe.
  6. No.
  7. Hell to the no.
  8. Are you out of your freakin’ mind?
  9. No. Not if I was in my last month of Unemployment benefits, and I was about to be evicted, and my dog needed an operation, and this was the only job interview I’d had all year.
  10. Sure. Why not? And while we’re at it, take my log-in for my bank, my, my TurboTax, my PayPal, my online health records and my And for your convenience, I’ve installed a webcam in my home. Have at it.
  11. Other: fill in the blank.





If you liked that post, then try these…

Why Alive HR? by Krista Ogburn Francis on March 9th, 2010
The former HRart is now Alive HR.

Are Men Funnier? by Krista Ogburn Francis on April 1st, 2011
Over a year ago, I wrote a post on .

Leave a Reply