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Address a potential employer’s request for the job candidate’s Facebook login information?

A recent syndicated article has been circulating, addressing the practice of employers asking prospective employees to provide their Facebook username and password during the initial interview process. The article is titled “Can Employers Legally Ask You For Your Facebook Password When You Apply For A Job?” Why Congress and states should outlaw this practice.” As the title indicates, this article is concerned with legal steps that are being taken and can be taken to address this questionable labor contracting practice. However, what is missing from that item is the most practical and demanding side of the problem, which is the occasion faced by the job seeker, when asked for this private information.

From the point of view of both an employer and an employment law attorney, I will try to briefly address this question. The question is: Until actual laws are put in place to prevent the practice of an employer asking for an interviewee’s Facebook login information, what can you do to protect your Facebook privacy during your search for a new job?

Is my Facebook information private?

Yes and No. Let me explain….

privacy settings

First, keep it clean! Always keep in mind that Facebook is constantly changing (it seems) its interface and privacy settings – keep abreast of these changes and select your own personal security and privacy settings wisely. Only expose things to the public that you want the public to see. Regardless of the ability to select privacy settings, you should assume that future changes to these settings or security breaches could cause your “private” published information to become public. Also, anything you post isn’t really private anyway, which is really why we “post” on Facebook in the first place, since it’s shared among your Facebook “friends.” Please note that those friends’ accounts may be shared or accessible by their spouses, family members, friends, and therefore the information you make visible to them could be shared with others, accidentally or deliberately.

privacy expectation

Next, despite the above, I still believe that there is an “expectation of privacy” in many aspects of our Facebook accounts. We hope that the privacy settings work as intended and that our comments, posts, etc. It will not be shared with the general public, even if we have made allowances for friends or family of friends to see our posts, comments, and Pages. However, we clearly have an expectation that the settings we choose, our passwords, our private emails to friends through Facebook’s email interface will remain private. When a prospective employer asks for your username and password, they are asking for private and confidential information – your password, which may be linked to other accounts or have some other personal meaning that we do not wish to share. In addition, they request access to all your activity on Facebook: every post, every game, every comment, every email. You reasonably expect many of these things in themselves to remain private. Furthermore, only you are reasonably expected to see the accumulation of this data. Would any prospective employer request access to your private email account, your computer’s hard drive, the full metadata, and Internet browser history of all the sites you’ve ever visited on your computer? Of course not, but logging into your Facebook account grants this same type of information: access to any personal emails you’ve sent through Facebook’s email interface, a complete view of any and all posts and comments you’ve made, a quick view of ALL your activity on Facebook, spanning as long as you’ve had your Facebook account, and access to your security settings, friend lists, blocked friends, etc. This is an invasion of your reasonable expectation of privacy.

How do I respond to a request for My Facebook login information from a potential employer?

If you’ve read the previous paragraph, I think a very pragmatic approach to addressing such a request would be to explain in response to such a query, outlining the concerns detailed above. Combine those privacy concerns with an offer of a less intrusive method for the prospective employer to obtain the information they are seeking. What is the employer looking for? In part, it could simply be to gauge how you respond to such a request. Therefore, be prepared to answer with confidence, addressing your privacy concerns and offering a different approach, and returning the question to the employer. Ask the interviewer or potential employer what he’s looking for and, if it’s reasonable in her opinion, offer to be a “friend” to give her a glimpse of the available information. Alternatively, you can simply offer to answer their questions on any given topic, thus putting the responsibility back on them for explaining what precise information they are looking for. These approaches show problem-solving skills and critical thinking on your part, which are probably good qualities for whatever job you’re looking for. They show that you are cooperative and that you work constructively to resolve potential conflicts, while standing up for your beliefs.

Should I create a second Facebook profile?

Creating a second, “clean” or dummy Facebook profile is one possible approach to the situation, as well as a way to “friend” your mother or other family members, while protecting the privacy of your less discreet or more discreet posts. lewd or frivolous activities between you and your closest “friends.” Be aware, however, that by doing this, friends, family, or potential employers with whom you share information on the fictitious account may discover or learn of the existence of your other account(s) and may react unpleasantly at the risk of being targeted or relegated to a second dummy account.

Can I use my work computer or cell phone for personal use, social networks, email, Facebook?

The simple answer to this question is NO! I get asked this question a lot, and the basic answer is that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in any information transmitted or entered digitally on/through a work computer, cell phone, or other device. The device belongs to your employer and therefore the employer has the right to seize or view the device at any time, and regardless of whether you delete the ESI (Electronically Stored Information), as most people understand in this digital age , the ESI is rarely removed. ever completely erase and destroy that information. Without going into the technical details of it (which I’m not qualified to fully expose anyway), when you delete electronically stored information, you’re simply removing the ROM’s access to and indexing of that information – the actual information itself remains. on disk, albeit partitioned somewhere and not indexed. It may eventually get partially or fully overwritten, but that may not happen for a considerable amount of time, if at all. Also, by transmitting information through your corporate device, that information is likely to pass through and be processed by your company’s server, leaving traces and the actual underlying information there for your employer to see. Additionally, automatically stored passwords and the like, if enabled, can give your employer easy access to ALL of your account information. This topic deserves much more, but that is not the purpose of this article.

In conclusion, this is a very interesting topic, both from a legislative and labor standpoint, and I’m looking forward to reading any relevant comments, anecdotes, and ultimately seeing how this landscape evolves over time.


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