Employers now demanding job seekers turn over their Facebook passwords, usernames

Not that Facebook is known for being great when it comes to privacy, but it’s good to see them speaking out against this very creepy practice. What people write about to friends and family on Facebook is personal and private. Whatever information Facebook users put out there for public viewing is their own problem, but employers are hugely overstepping their authority when they ask for this.

First some background from AP:

When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.

Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information.

Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information.

The Verge:

“If an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person.”

Thus, asking for passwords is a lose-lose situation for employers. And this is besides the fact that asking for someone’s Facebook password is as ridiculous as asking someone to let you rifle through their email inbox. Additionally, anyone with your password has instant access to all of your friends’ pictures, phone numbers, email addresses, and private messages, which turns the practice into an even bigger invasion of privacy.

Senator Richard Blumenthal is currently working on legislation to ban this practice.

Note from John: What a great way to find out the answers to all those illegal questions about your employees, such as whether they have kids, are pregnant, are gay (though I bet that’s legal to ask), what their religion is, their politics.  Everyone of all political stripes should be concerned about this.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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