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Is your Facebook account private from an employer? Should it be?

One question I was asked at the last Social Media Surgery was – could I say something about employers access to employees Facebook accounts. Yes I can.

There has been a trend in the US of employers asking to have access to employees Facebook accounts.

This has gone so far that Facebook have reacted to it by saying that they will not give out passwords to employers see this Wired article: Facebook takes on employers over forced access to staff accounts

Indeed concern has spread more widely as ComputerWord says Senators call for probe of employers seeking Facebook info

To be bang up to date there was a fascinating interview on the World Service this morning with Robert Collins in Maryland. He went for an interview to be re-employed by a correctional centre. At the interview he was asked to hand over his Facebook password and while he was there the interviewer accessed his account to ‘review’ it.

The result being – Maryland Lawmakers Ban Employers from Requesting Facebook Credentials from Employees or Interviewees

So what can we conclude from this. Well if you are an employer in the US its probably not a good idea to ask for employees passwords to their social media accounts.

Does anyone ask for passwords in the UK? I don’t know but it’s probably not a good idea to start.

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Peter Sperry

So if a corporation hires an employee who later injures or kills someone by operating machinery while impaired by drugs or alcohol, how will the company respond when the plaintives attorney presents the employee’s Facebook history as evidence the employer did not excercize due dillegence in hiring? How would a day care provider or school system respond when sued for an employee’s improper conduct which was preceeded by similar behavior documented on Facebook? Do we change the law to prohibit litigators or law enforcement from holding employers responsible for the predictable bad behavior of individuals they never would have hired if they had been able to check Facebook accounts?

Corey McCarren

Life went on before employers thought to get Facebook passwords, it will go on after they are not allowed to do so. Viewing a persons public Facebook profile is one thing, but asking for the password is another. Ben Franklin said it best: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety,deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We can continue on a witch hunt for the ultimate secure society until we’re all miserable and have to be constantly afraid of what we’re doing for fear someone is watching, or we can let go and realize it’s an impossible and pointless endeavor.