New Legislation Bans Employers from Asking for Facebook Access

Recently in the news we heard that certain Employers were asking potential applicants to reveal their Facebook accounts as part of the screening process. Online privacy is a big deal to a lot of people and despite Facebook sharing your statistics, there is an argument to be made that potential employers do not have the right to see someone’s Facebook page.

Well after all the online debate about it, we should have seen this coming. There is legislation headed to congress in the US that would actually make it illegal for potential employers to ask for access to your Facebook account.

The Social Networking Online Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account.

This of course does not stop them from Googling you and potentially tripping across your profile, but it is a step in the right direction.

Where I currently stand on this is simple. Where I live, a potential employer cannot ask for my religious or political alignment, so why should they be able to ask for my Facebook account (which likely states such things). Also for the most part, the recreation and hobbies outside of work is not something that should impact an individual’s credibility to an employer. I would hate to lose an opportunity just because someone made a snap judgement over my Justin Bieber & My Little Pony Facebook Profile Cover image.

The only impact your private life may have on potential employment is criminal activity, and if you are overly concerned about this there is room in the law to require a criminal record check as part of the application process. Most other social inconsistencies with direct relation to job performance can be determined through carefully asked questions in the interview.

The other side of this coin is that you represent yourself in your profile as to who you are and what you want to share. If you are public about being an extremist of any fashion and you publish it on your Facebook profile, then you are leaving yourself open to being judged by it – right or wrong.

I think that asking for access to the Facebook profile is a bluff. If you have something to hide, you likely will deny access. This automatically generates suspicion and would look like you are admitting guilt. But then if you just feel that is none of their business, are you sabotaging your chances at the job?


12 Responses to New Legislation Bans Employers from Asking for Facebook Access

  1. There are many things employers can't ask you during an interview. Nearly all of those will likely be revealed on Facebook. There are some few good grounds for making illegal. I just hope they are smart enough to encompass all password protected online accounts.

  2. It is already illegal for a company to ask for your password and log in details! Its in the terms of service. not to supply this information to a third party party..

  3. If people want to hide on sites like facebook then why make accounts on this sites in the first place. Americans and their logic.

    • The point is, employers have no right to ask for the username and password to any private account, social media or otherwise, ever. Asking for the password is like asking for the keys to your house, so they can search it as a pre-requisite of employment. If they want to look at your social networking public profile, they can (and probably do) do that, but they don't need your username and password for that. They want the password so they can gain access to the private stuff you only share with specific friends and not the general public, none of which is any of their business in the first place, regardless of what that content is.

  4. There's nothing on my Facebook page that I'd have any problem with a potential employer seeing, but I still don't think I'd hand over my password, As matt said, it's against the TOS, but I also don't think I'd want to work for a company that is that interested in prying into my personal life.

    • This.

      My FB profile is pretty innocuous. I just post fun links and the occasional picture of my dog. However, no employer should be allowed access to your e-mail, FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever social media account you have online beyond what you've made public. Neither should they force you to "friend" them, so they can see your account – I only have actual friends on my list, and have a very strict policy about keeping my clients off of my friend list.

      If a prospective employer asked about your religious status, political views or – if you are a woman – whether or not you're pregnant or planning to have children – that would be an outrage. So in no way, shape or form are they allowed to open your mail or be allowed access to your house or safety deposit box. This is the electronic equivalent.

      This is not about calling a bluff, it's about overstepping boundaries. I expect them to Google me, but not to go any further. I wouldn't want to work for a company that thought this was an acceptable part of the interview process. It's bad enough that some ask for a SSN as part of the initial screen. If they need to do a background check deeper into the process, I tell them I'm happy to give them that info once they've decided that I'm an eligible candidate, but not before then. No fight, no stand, just a statement and the interviewers have always been okay with that.

  5. Any employer who asks for my facebook password, my email password, even my twitter name has just revealed themselves as an employer I don't want to work for. If I was approached I'd be out of the building as quick as possible and I've no doubt that my Union would support me.

  6. If someone is worried about saying no and losing a job opportunity, just tell them its for personal use and you dont want to mix business with pleasure but you'll create a business profile for them if they like.

    Thats the more PC way to put it if you still want to work for them, but myself, I wouldnt be wanting to work for someone that wants to snoop through your personal info. Whats next? They ask to come over and look through your underwear drawer?

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