Blog & Company News

Apr 11, 2012

Potential Employees, Their Social Networking Passwords, And What It All Means to You

[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="300" caption=Potential Employees, Their Social Networking Passwords, And What It All Means to You"][/caption] Can you ask your employees for their personal social-networking passwords? You shouldn’t. And soon, you won’t be able to. The job market has begun to trend upward early on in 2012 as the economy slowly begins to rebound. With it comes a flood of job seekers looking to take advantage of the increasing number of jobs and businesses looking to attract top talent made available because of our country’s recent economic woes. As the age of social media explodes exponentially, job seekers have been advised to ‘scrub’ their online personas that might show them in a less than flattering light in the eyes of potential employers. It is because of this growth that it has become common practice for employers to seek out information on potential employees via social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Recently, however, reports have surfaced through the Associated Press of what has seemingly become common practice for hiring managers to ask potential employees for their personal social networking login and password information during the hiring process. Some companies have even begun to use third-party applications, like BeKnown, to access personal files.1 Social juggernaut Facebook quickly reacted to this practice and the recent AP report by issuing several statements against this practice, calling it ‘alarming’ and prompting the following response: "We'll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges."2 Local legislators have sprung into action as well by drafting legislation that prohibits this behavior. One state in particular, Maryland, has become the first state to pass a law banning employers asking for social media passwords.3 Because of the recent publicity of the recent reports, as well as the recent state legislation being passed in Maryland, several states have begun to follow suit, including Illinois and California. As the job market continues to grow and more job seekers flood the market, it is important as a small business owner to understand what you can and can’t do from a privacy perspective when it comes to social networks and personal password information. We’ll continue to monitor this situation and update as more states push legislation through local governments and eventually into law surrounding employer/employee social networking privacy. For more information, visit: 1. Associated Press: Job Seekers Getting Asked for Facebook Passwords 2. Facebook: Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy 3. The Verge: Maryland Passes Law Prohibiting Employers from Asking for Social Network Passwords