Asking for Facebook passwords during the interview is an invasion of privacy

March 26, 2012

We’ve come to expect the intimate inspection of our social media profiles by recruiters and hiring managers, but some recruiters are now asking applicants for Facebook login information during interviews, as well.

A fascinating story from the Associated Press reveals that some HR pros are either asking applicants to hand over Facebook login credentials, including passwords, or asking applicants to log themselves into their Facebook accounts on a company computer. Other recruiters might ask an applicant to add them as a friend on the social network.

“To me, that’s still invasive,” said Robert Collins, a corrections officer, in the AP report. “I can appreciate the desire to learn more about the applicant, but it’s still a violation of people’s personal privacy.”

And the invasion isn’t limited to Facebook. Some companies are asking to access other social network and even applicants’ email accounts.

All of this is designed to let HR folks see into the more private aspects of would-be employees’ lives — you know, the kind of thing you might purposefully hide from such prying, professional eyes. While most of us with career aspirations have cleaned up our profiles across a variety of websites specifically to appeal to our professional colleagues, some of these employers seem to think that digging below that veneer is equivalent to making reference calls or conducting a background check.

The AP said these types of requests are more common among security and law enforcement professions, but many companies use third-party apps to scrape applicants’ social data from the site. Sears even has a custom-built application that uses Facebook to let applicants log into Sears’ own jobs site.

While any applicant has the right to refuse these requests, most choose not to because they don’t want to risk losing the job opportunity, making it even more difficult for normal users to distinguish between the public and the private, the personal and the professional, online.

Image courtesy of Kristian Peetz, Shutterstock

Copyright 2012, VentureBeat

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