Jobseekers Beware: Employers may request access to you Facebook acccount

Jobseekers Beware: Employers may ask to see your Facebook Account and request access it

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Using even the highest privacy settings on your Facebook account may not stop employers or colleges from gaining access to your social media accounts.

In this social media age a new and worrying trend is emerging and that is employers requesting access to applicants’ accounts during job interviews. The ACLU filed a complaint last year after applicants were asked to give their user name and password to the Maryland State Department of Corrections.

The department has since asked potential employees to login to their accounts themselves – but to allow interviewers to page through the accounts, looking at information typically only available to the user’s Facebook friends.

This is a violation of people's First Amendment rights and it, should it be used in the EU areas, would constitute a violation of all types of privacy rights and laws.

It is amazing that the governments of the “free world” will condemn such actions in totalitarian states and under totalitarian regimes but seem to be quite happy to allow it in their own countries.

Similar to the way that our governments complained about BlackBerry services and other social media being turned off during the Arab Spring while, at the same time, both the US government and that of the UK are talking about blocking Twitter, Facebook,BlackBerry and other social media during protests and such like.

It is not a far leap from reading people’s Facebook posts to reading their email. As a society, where are we going to draw the line? We must draw the line now and say that while the Internet may make a lot more things public no one should be able to demand access to anyone's Facebook account, Twitter account or any such like.

The real worrying thing is that employers are asking for the same access to a Facebook account as the applicant has him- or herself, not friend access, which is less.

I just wonder how much right an employer, or college, or any other agency, actually have to ask about such access. None theoretically under European laws and also under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

But it's tricky to deny such access to an employer. Candidates may worry about being judged poorly for not offering such information if asked, even though they are not obliged to.

This is, obviously, a dilemma and especially in the current situation of the labor market but would one want to work for any employer who makes such demands to see what we think and write.

When we see this happening what comes next? Wanting to know and to see what we write in our private notebooks and journals, in our letters and emails to family and fiends? It would not surprise me.

Personally I believe that companies and other places that make such demands of access to Facebook account and such like need to be publicized far and wide and made to be shamed publicly. In that way alone can we fight back against such intrusions into our privacy, and there is not much of it left; our privacy, that is.

© 2012