Nowadays we’re used to being warned about online privacy. Many people have locked down their Facebook profile settings after high-profile news stories about people losing their jobs because of what they write on their walls. But now it seems employers are going one step further to check what we’re up to online.
Some people who apply for jobs are being asked to give their potential employer permission to log into their Facebook account as part of the job selection process. Discussions are now underway to determine whether this is legal in the US or UK.
Companies who ask job applicants to hand over their Facebook passwords are being criticised for invading privacy. The employers say they are simply covering their own backs. Legal experts predict that more companies are likely to make similar requests if the practice is not found to be illegal.
Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, said that Facebook’s terms and conditions specifically forbid anyone from sharing their username and password. She implied that people who continued to request this information or monitor other people’s activity on the site could be sued, although British legal analysts say that the practice is unlikely to be banned as people are free to say no. However, if an employer finds out that an applicant has been dishonest, that could cause problems for the selection process. They may also find that the person who had applied for the job was up to no good, and reporting private communications to the police would place the employer in a legally vulnerable position.
In the US, two Senators have asked the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to look into the practice to find out whether it should be prevented. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer called it a “disturbing trend” and an “unreasonable invasion of privacy”.
Would you be happy to hand over your Facebook login details to your boss?