At the beginning of the month, I wrote a blog about how a study showed that Facebook may just be a reliable assessment tool for recruiters. It sparked a conversation about whether employers should be using Facebook to screen applicants. Flash forward a couple of weeks, and stories about job seekers being asked for Facebook passwords during interviews are all over the internet and television.
I’m sure you’ve heard many of these individual accounts if you have been keeping up with the topic. There have been so many more stories (and debate) that have been publicized the past two weeks.
So many varied discussions about Facebook and employers – what (or is) there a difference if you are an applicant versus an employee providing your password, how a city ask for passwords for email addresses/social networking websites, or private sector companies such as Sears utilizing an app where job applicants to log into the Sears job site through Facebook by allowing a third-party application to draw information from their profile. What happens next? I’ve heard that some employers require their workers to sign non-disparagement agreements which ban them from talking negatively about their employer on social media sites.
Flash forward a couple of weeks, and as of last Friday, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer for Policy releases a statement saying that “in recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain. Then just today I read that two Senators (Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer) have asked the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate “a new disturbing trend” of prospective employers demanding job applicants to provide user names and passwords for their social network accounts. Senator Blumental has also said he is going to be drafting legislation banning employers from requesting access to Facebook accounts as a term of employment.
I know that since 2006, the McLean County Sheriff’s office has been asking applicants to sign into their social media sites so that they may be screened. The department says applicants have a right to refuse, and no one has ever done so. My thought? Hello! If you need to pay your mortgage, utilities, the car payment, and put food on the table for your family – perhaps you agree to this because you CAN’T afford to stand up for your belief.
Employers say that applicants are volunteering this information. What are your thoughts? Is volunteering coercion if you need a job?