5 Reasons You NEED Your Employees Facebook Passwords

1. You enjoy being sued.
2. You enjoy being contacted by the media.
3. You don't want to risk the chance your employees may feel you trust them.
4. You are concerned about employees raising illegal "crops" on Farmville during work time.
5. Your personal leadership "heroes" are Kim Il Jong and Mussolini.

While I suspect that businesses asking applicants for their Facebook passwords is not the raging practice you might think it was based on recent news articles, if you were thinking about doing this, read Celeste Blackburn's article here: http://www.hrhero.com/techforhr/2012/03/asking-applicants-for-facebook-passwords-dont-do-it

I think a more serious concern is that you must be careful what you POST on Facebook as you may be quoted by rogue journalists seeking snarky soundbites.

Comments

  • 22 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Love that list Paul! Can I quote you? ;)

    I'm just glad there are HR pros out there like Paul who get why asking for FB passwords is such a bad idea generally.

    Have any of you considered asking applicants for passwords? Or, more likely, have any of you had hiring managers, VPs, or CEOs that wanted you to ask for passwords?

    What would be a good reason for asking for a password? What am I missing?
  • Paul, I laughed so loud I had to call another employee in here to share. Maybe Celeste should tweet your post. :D

    It's just that old pendulum thing, Celeste. The practice of checking social media sites has become an accepted part of background checks, and now people have gone too far. Next we will see the backlash as the pendulum swings the other way. That old pendulum keeps life exciting. Think how boring it would get if people used their common sense instead of going off the deep end. BTW, great blog.
  • Nae, check out the @HRHero account on Twitter. It's not every day we get to use the #tongueincheek hashtag :) tk
  • I am only aware of one actual, documented incident of employees being asked to provide their Facebook passwords and that was the City of Bozeman. I posted something about that incident on here in 2009 (always ahead of the curve). The City of Bozeman hastily retracted their policy once the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan.

    I really doubt that this is a widespread practice. I think its been picked up in the media because it fits a preconception about employers being intrusive.

    Interestingly, today in our cafe one of our employees announced that they had heard it was illegal to fire someone over a Facebook post. I immediately explained that only some types of speech are protected.

    Then I asked for everyone's passwords.
  • I just read that FB is taking a stand. Passwords should be protected, etc etc.

    The balloon fills quickly, but before it bursts the air is let out again. Isn't life interesting?
  • I love these breathless news stories about this issue that fail to include a single actual example of this happening. I think we have invented a new genre: the urban employment legend.

    "Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) says he'll introduce a federal bill to make it illegal for employers to demand Facebook passwords from job applicants."

    Now, we can all rest at ease. The government is getting involved.
  • tkesslerTony Kessler 409 Posts
    edited August 2015 PMVote Up0Vote Down
    Here is a link http://cour.at/Ha6tk7 to the article in yesterday's Hartford Courant in which Sen. Blumenthal promises to introduce the bill to ban employers from seeking employees' Facebook passwords. As Paul points out, no employers are listed by name. In fact, Blumenthal "declined to name any of the companies that are asking for this access," though he promised to turn them over to the Justice Department. About the claim that companies might be engaging in this "invasive practice," the article later suggests that "by some accounts, it remains highly unusual." Paul gets a gold star for critical reading skills! tk
  • The level of incompetence our elected officials share when it comes to technology should not be surprising. However, I expect their paid staffers and interns to be savvy enough to help prevent this stuff from wasting everyone's time.
  • tkesslerTony Kessler 409 Posts
    edited August 2015 PMVote Up0Vote Down
    Here is a terrific factual analysis of how this "Internet pandemonium" might have started. Paul appears to have been right on the money =D> tk http://bit.ly/HhPElR
  • I relate this to the claim that lots of employers get sued by ex-employees for responding to reference checks with more than name, position, and date of hire. It ranks somewhere between isolated and urban legend.
  • I think a more interesting issue is how Facebook can work WITH employers who have legitimate concerns about managing their online reputations.

    The "employers asking for passwords" fits an unfortunate narrative where employers are creepy and invasive. I think most employers could care less what their employees do online AS LONG as their online activity doesn't have a negative impact on the employer.

    Search Youtube for "Dominos pizza youtube scandal" for an example of how one idiot employee can damage your reputation through irresponsbile online activity. (Pro tip: don't watch this before lunch)
  • [url]http://cnet.co/HmCLsr[/url]

    Here is today's latest news article on this subject, from CNET, which raises the (tongue-in-cheek) probing question that I am sure is on the tip of everyone's tongue who has read this thread: Have employers, en masse, suddenly come down with a "case of the stupids"? tk
  • I saw a newscast the other night where they interviewed a representative of a Police Department (in uniform) of a city in Wisconsin. He claimed it was necessary to look at applicant's FB pages as part of the background check. He said they needed to look at every avenue of information possible to make sure they hired the right people. He also claimed it was the wave of the future and applicants should get used to it.

    Snail Frockey.
  • I ran across a resume the other day, and sent the person an e-mail asking her to complete our online application. Then I looked at her Facebook page.

    I'm glad she didn't apply. It would have been awkward, because after seeing the Facebook page there was no way in hell I wanted her working anywhere near me.

    What alarmed me wasn't that she engaged in these activities and held these beliefs... it was that she was so proud of them, she paraded them in front of the world on Facebook. I know I have some co-workers with wacky ideas, but for the most part they don't bring them to work. If I need their password to find out that stuff, then it's just not as relevant to me. I'm more concerned with people who wear their hate and bitterness like a badge of honor.
  • edited August 2015 PMVote Up0Vote Down
    http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/260704/222/How-to-answer-questions-employers-arent-supposed-to-ask-

    Here's a link to an interesting article (along with a short video of a career coach in Denver) explaining how applicants should answer questions employers shouldn't ask. She blames those questions on interviewer ignorance and advises applicants to change topics and, in effect, ignore the questions. It also gives one applicant's take on how to respond when a prospective employer asks for access to an applicant's Facebook account.

    Have you ever asked an applicant a perfectly legal question and they avoided answering, perhaps because they thought it wasn't legal to ask? Did you give them the benefit of the doubt or check them off your list?

    Is this career coach helping or hurting applicants with her advice?

    Sharon
  • Hurting.

    The best advice career coaches can give about interviewing involves how to:
    1. Get the interview
    2. Prepare for the interview (from grooming to researching the company)
    3. Feel relaxed and appear confident
    4. Listen
    5. Avoid saying something stupid.

    The WORST advice career coaches can give involves how to control, manipulate, or otherwise circumvent the interview or interviewer.

    If you're asked a question, answer it. Plain and simple. If it feels 'out of bounds', answer it, then ask "Is that a problem?" That simple little follow-up can provide a lot of illumination. Regardless, if you're asked inappropriate questions in the interview, then think about what it's going to be like actually working there and move on.
  • Holly_JonesHolly Jones 102 Posts
    edited August 2015 PMVote Up0Vote Down
    Just in the event that some of you haven't heard about this one, yet: http://raganwald.posterous.com/i-hereby-resign

    The (not real, but still going viral around the 'net) "letter of resignation" commentary on requesting access (whether through passwords or "shoulder surfing") to applicants' Facebook accounts during the interview process. The letter is written from a Canadian perspective, but the points about an interviewer actively discovering information that is easily accessible on Facebook, but would otherwise be illegal to ask about in an interview, is still present.
  • What if you suspect an applicant may hold a Canadian perspective, or worse, engage in a Canadian lifestyle?
  • The last time I crossed over to Windsor the border guard asked me the nature of my visit. I told him I had a craving for Canadian food. He was far less amused than I was.
  • edited August 2015 PMVote Up0Vote Down
    I love these breathless news stories about this issue that fail to include a single actual example of this happening. I think we have invented a new genre: the urban employment legend.

    "Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) says he'll introduce a federal bill to make it illegal for employers to demand Facebook passwords from job applicants."

    Now, we can all rest at ease. The government is getting involved.


    And how! Last week, I dedicated a series of posts on the tech blog to what legislators are doing at the state and federal level to stop the practice of employers asking for passwords -- possibly before it ever really started.

    You can read the posts here http://www.hrhero.com/techforhr/tag/password-privacy


    The last post in the series discusses what employers should do considering what's happening on this issue. My favorite point by author Kathy Carlson is: Legal issues aside, employers face the risk that the very job candidates they want the most will refuse to work for them if they request password information. 

    I think that's the biggest problem with asking anyone for a password. The best and brightest will laugh and go somewhere else.

    Celeste

    Celeste http://www.hrhero.com/techforhr/tag/password-privacy
  • Holly_JonesHolly Jones 102 Posts
    edited August 2015 PMVote Up0Vote Down
    Legal issues aside, employers face the risk that the very job candidates they want the most will refuse to work for them if they request password information. 
    This is such a good point! I think it says a lot about employee/employer "fit." Personally if I interviewed for a job with a company that asked for my passwords, though I have nothing to hide, I simply don't think I would be a good fit in a company with that sort of policy. (Full disclosure, I happen to look at stringent dress codes in the same manner.)

    I also think it's just mentally (and emotionally) healthy to have some semblance of division between work life and personal life. Asking for employee/applicants' social media passwords blurs that division and makes it harder for employees to truly "end" their work days.

    There's nothing about me on my social media accounts that my colleagues don't already know about my interests and hobbies, but I would still feel uncomfortable giving up my passwords just as I would feel uncomfortable giving an employer a key to my home. It's about being able to have a part of one's life where work doesn't go, so that when you return to the office every day you feel as though you actually left for a while.
  • You'll get my Facebook password when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.