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Susan M. Heathfield

Believe in Social Media Privacy for Job Candidates?

By March 26, 2012

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What do you think about employers asking their prospective employees to share their private passwords to their personal social media accounts such as Facebook? I have told employers for several years that this is a bad practice since it potentially alienates your best candidates. It also breaches the line I draw that separates employee work and private lives.

Yes, private affairs occasionally overflow into the workplace and the employer can address these as they arise. But, the practice of prying into the private lives of potential employees is not recommended.

Additionally, it infringes on the rights and interests of all of the individuals who may be friends of the individual whose account you want to access. And, it exposes your employees to potential discrimination and other charges based on the information found and its potential impact on employment decisions - or not.

I'm not sure what brought employers asking for social media passwords from job searchers to national attention, but it certainly has dominated the air waves over the past few days. Perhaps it was the fact that Facebook Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan addressed the emerging practice in a Facebook posting on March 23. Her post reminded Facebook users that to share their password is a breach of Facebook's user guidelines.

Take a look at my thoughts about this employer practice to see why it is a bad idea. I also provide tips for employers about background checking in social media.

Image Copyright James Tutor

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