Our society is becoming increasingly dependent on social networking sites. A significant amount of personal information is now shared online, which makes it dangerously easy for individual liberties to be violated. Reports of employers asking job applicants for their Facebook password have been growing. This is a trend that is alarming and a breach of personal independence. Employers shouldn’t judge job candidates by their social networking profiles, but rather by their interviews and the quality of their application. Asking for Facebook passwords endangers job applicants’ personal liberties, and should be illegal in a time and place where almost everything is shared online.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are both aware of the impending dangers associated with asking employees for Facebook passwords. They have asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether this breach of personal privacy is legal. Not only would employers gain access to personal information that would otherwise be hidden to them during the application process, but they would be able to use the information to also discriminate against applicants.
The information obtained from social networking sites by acquiring an applicant’s password isn’t relevant to employers. An individual’s social connections and personal life shouldn’t play a major role in selecting the best candidate for a certain job. If distinct information about employees needs to be obtained, there are less invasive legal means of doing it, including a background check or other investigative measures.
Asking for Facebook passwords also gives employers answers to questions that would otherwise be hidden to them under federal law. Personal information such as religion, sexual orientation and marital status are all protected by federal employment laws. By asking for Facebook passwords, companies would be able to uncover specific details about applicants that they would not legally be allowed to ask for in a normal application process, leading to potential discrimination against certain individuals that otherwise wouldn’t occur.
The employers asking for passwords are taking advantage of the bad economic climate and cutthroat college graduates who will do almost anything in hopes of finding a solid job. In today’s poor economy, it’s more difficult than ever to find a job right out of college, and employers are using this fact to their advantage by invading a potential employee’s privacy. A line needs to be drawn somewhere because social media will continue to expand in the future.
Asking for Facebook passwords allows employers to discriminate against potential job candidates, take advantage of the cutthroat economic environment and plunge into the personal lives of their employees. This action can only lead to more intrusive methods of screening candidates as social media and the Internet continue to grow. Employers should not have the right to make judgments based off sites such as Facebook, and the federal government needs to make the practice illegal.