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Can an Employer Force You to Reveal Your Facebook Password?

A state legislative committee approved a bill this week that would bar the practice.

 

Can an employer force you to reveal your Facebook or other social media password as a condition for getting hired or keeping your job?

That issue began to get some attention in March after a statistician in New York reported that during an interview with a potential employer, the woman interviewing him had searched for his Facebook and, upon discovering that it was private, asked him for the password.

The statistician, Justin Bassett refused and left the interview, according to the Associated Press.

But the story brought to light other instances where employers have sought similar access to social media accounts, and have led several states to consider legislation to ban the practice.

California's assembly voted Thursday to approve such legislation and a committee in the New Jersey general assembly passed a bill with similar wording on Thursday.

According to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Labor Relations Board has reviewed 129 cases involving social media, although many are in the early stages. The issues raised include not just whether an employer can ask for an employee's password, but whether the employer can force the employee to accept a "Like" request, so the employee's social media activities can be monitored; whether the employer used social media to spy on an employee; or whether an employer was justified in firing or disciplining an employee because of something they posted on a social media site.

So what's your take? Does your boss have a legitimate interest in what you say on Facebook?

Meredith Persson May 15, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I agree Jessica. An employer does not have the right to access your private information. I have never been required or even asked to provide that type of information at an interview and I have never had a problem getting a job. I think people need to watch what they say online because you never know when it will come back to haunt you, but accessing your information as if they were you is not your employer (or prospective employer's) right.
monitorj May 15, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Personally I really enjoy being subjugated by the opposite sex. It's hard to explain. I guess it goes back to my early childhood and having strong women in my family.
Brett Bickley May 15, 2012 at 08:29 PM
..... Dear Ridgewood Mom .... Nice trolling. Because if you're serious? YOU are what's wrong with America today.
Ridgewood Mom May 15, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Its not trolling. I said that I wasn't serious. And I think that I made a good point, because those are the exact points that we see people making on the Patch daily.
Ridgewood Mom May 15, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Sure Curt. Here is my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Christie/61266377386
Ridgewood Mom May 15, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Better yet, friend me here: http://www.facebook.com/zuck
Ridgewood Mom May 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM
...and Brett, I agree with you. If you check the poll results above you will see that eighty people, so far, have read this article and see nothing at all wrong with requiring prospective employees to reveal their Facebook passwords. There is something seriously wrong in America today.
BeachBum May 15, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Has everybody gone crazy and let this site take over their pathetic lives that they need to brag about everything they do and every move their kids make - Get a life everybody, could care less what you just thought or are about to do on a daily basis - Facebook is basically for people who dont get any attention or want to make things seem better than they really are - Thumbs up for employers who ask for this information, it is related to the background check on nuts they are about to employ
Literati May 16, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I've heard 2 sides to this story. I for one don't post anything using my name or image in FB that I wouldn't want my worst enemy to know. If you search my name on Google you might find a few articles about college awards that I won, that actually apply to me. I don't have my phone number linked to my FB or twiiter or Google account. Personal pictures belong on my personal PC. I think they youth is way too loose with their information but I'm a little old-fashioned that way. On the other hand our online personas are slowly creeping into the business world more and more. More and more business have FB accounts it's not just for college kids anymore. I think a person should have a "professional" FB page. Add your co-workers and your friends who have enough sense to only link SFW things. Employers want to know what kind of person you are. Do you get out and have fun, do you enjoy knitting, did you see the Avengers, things like that who cares if everyone gets to see that. A lot of places want people who mesh with the team more than someone qualified (tons of people are qualified for the job. If they just wanted the most qualified person they wouldn't hold interviews). With certain jobs you could even bump up your chances, posting "sample work" (look at this idea I thought up while in the shower) Just like in the past it was customary to create a professional e-mail address to put on your resume maybe it's time to have a professional FB account to give out to employers
Rob May 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Here's and interesting question. Is it morally okay ( I think it's perfectly legal ) for an employer to use software to obtain your username and password if you log on to facebook using your work, or better put, employers computer. Should an employee expect any level of personal privacy while using equipment provided to them by their employer for the sole purpose of performing the job they were hired for. Can you imagine the collective amount of time wasted by employees on the internet at work.
Rob May 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Sorry, "an interesting question".
Laura Madsen May 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Ed that's such a simple and yet brilliant suggestion. It's tactics like that which will finally cause employers to back off when one guy files the big lawsuit and wins. I can't wait until it happens. On another note, Facebook would support you - because really, Facebook is the ultimate owner of all Facebook accounts. They have a terms of service agreement in place that allows you to use it. You, not your employer, nor your boss, nor anyone else.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM
True! Anyone can find out as much as is publicly exposed, employers included. However, they must draw the line when requiring a password to gain any more information. It is then no one's business but yours and your friends.
Laura Madsen May 16, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Clive, more people need to take that stand. If employers see that people are united and won't provide passwords and login information for personal accounts, they're going to have a mighty small pool of prospective qualified candidates to choose from and will have to rethink their ways.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:00 PM
An employer asking for your Facebook password or otherwise asking to see your account allows them tcontravene existing employment law! Information that they cannot lawfully ask for is exposed, such as age, marital status, heath status and other personal information they have absolutely no right to in the process of an interview. I agree that many should use better judgement about what they postm but the fact that you beleive that this is lawful shows that you have not thought this through. Don't throw your rights away so easily.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:01 PM
@todd: No , they cant. See my above post for details.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Sadly, I can't tell if you are serious; I certainly hope not. Any talk of moral relativism here is a non-starter. I'm sure you would not like it if soeone dug up all your skeletons anytime you tried to make a move. If you are serious, I hope all your employees wise up and leave your employ for an oragnization that respects them.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:12 PM
@todd: Good! So please afford everyone else the same courtesy and respect others' privacy.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Again, they can get information that they would not be able to legally ask you, as well as personal information of others who have not given their permission. It's scary how quickly dome here are willing to give up their right to privacy.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:14 PM
She was kidding. See her above post.
Denobin May 16, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Or just exercise your rights and do not allow it in the first place.
B@B May 16, 2012 at 02:25 PM
LinkedIn is unrelated to Facebook.
Harry May 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Sounds like Nazi Germany
Lenny May 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
The whole point of the password is so you can get into your account and everyone else can't...period. If the company should happen to hire you, the first thing they'll make you do is sign a form stating that you won't give your business passwords to anybody. It's almost like when I go on job interviews. They want to see the work that I've done for others, but they won't want the work I do for them shown to others.
Ridgewood Mom May 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Better yet, 1. Beforehand, visit the Facebook page belonging to the prospective boss conducting your interview and do a Google search on them. Take note of their interests. 2. Set up a dummy Facebook page for yourself and "like" all of the same things that they "like." "Like" the same music, the same sports teams, the same pop culture nonsense. Everything. 3. Try to think of a few powerful or influential people that your prospective boss would like to get to know. Perhaps people whom he might see as helpful in advancing his own business or career. 4. Create Facebook profiles for all of those people, replete with photos of them. Better yet, photoshop a few of their photos so that they depict you with your arm around their back as buddies. 5. Friend them with your own dummy Facebook account, and have them post a few intimate sorts of things on your Facebook wall. For example, you could have Bill Gates posting something on your wall like "had a great time golfing with ya the other day Bob! You truly are one of my best friends." Or you could have a US senator posting, "That was sure helpful professional advice you gave me. Once again, you prove yourself to be the top expert in your field." 6. If your prospective employer is a man, make sure to have many attractive females as FB friends. Have a few of them post on your wall that they are lonely and would like for you to help set them up on a blind date with someone you know.
Katrina May 21, 2012 at 04:21 PM
To those of you unsure as to whether Ridgewood Mom was serious: Yikes. There's a bridge in Brooklyn for sale that might interest you. To Ridgewood Mom: Hysterical post. Thanks for the laugh.
concerned June 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Just tell them that you don't have a facebook account.. just change your face book name and remove your profile picture, only tell your close friend & family your secret user name...
Paul Umrichin July 01, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Liar, liar, pants on fire!
Zigah Daniel January 16, 2013 at 06:18 PM
facebook is best
Mikey January 16, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Done! It is common for employers to do a credit check on potential employees.

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