Do companies have a right to ask for a job applicant’s log-in details?… Justin Bassett, a statistician from New York City felt his job interview was going well. Then the interviewer asked him for his log-in details to his Facebook page. He refused and walked out of the interview in disgust. However as more and more people use social media, the curiousity of the employer is growing and these type of inquiries are becoming more commonplace. Some companies aren’t satisfied with merely checking a potential employee’s public profile. They want full access and will ask for it.
Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University claims :
“It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys and an egregious privacy violation.”
However, the legality of this type of inquiry remains in doubt and currently there is legislation being mooted in the American states of Illinois and Maryland that aims to prevent public agencies to ask for access to information stored on private social networks.
A common practice among recruiters is to check up on publically available social networking profiles but many users have set these to private. Some employers get around this by asking a job applicant to add someone in the company’s HR team to their network or to log in to their social networks during the interview. Some employers even go as far as employing third party applications that can access information on private networks.
E. Chandlee Bryan, author of “The Twitter Job Search Guide,” warns social media users to be more aware of what information is posted on their social networking sites and to realise that the information posted there may be accessed by anybody. The key is to be careful not to vent private frustrations online. She says:
“I think that when you work for a company, they are essentially supporting you in exchange for your work. I think if you’re dissatisfied, you should go to them and not on a social media site”.
Giving out Facebook log-in information violates the social network’s terms of service. But those terms have no real legal weight, and experts say the legality of asking for such information remains murky. What is clear is that employees and employers should both realise the importance of social networking tools, how powerful they can be, their tremendous reach and most importantly they should demonstrate a sense of responsibility when using them. A dedicated social media policy is the first step to achieving that goal.