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Poll: Should An Employer Have My Facebook Password?

Preliminary legislation passed Friday in the California Senate seeks to forbid the practice.

 

"Ummm, my user name is my first name, and my password is, ummm....'liketoparty.'"

It's embarrassing and intrusive moments like this - perhaps in a job interview, perhaps with a current employer - that local Senator Leland Yee has decided to address with proposed legislation.

On a 28-5 vote, the California Senate Friday approved legislation, authored by Yee, that prevents employers from formally requesting or demanding social media usernames and passwords from employees or job applicants.

According to his office, Yee’s bill also prohibits public and private colleges and universities from requiring such information of students.

Yee feels the time is correct for the bill. He says a "growing number of businesses, public agencies, and colleges around the country are asking job seekers, workers, and students for their Facebook and Twitter account information."

“I am pleased by today’s overwhelming vote to end this unacceptable invasion of personal privacy,” said Yee in a release. “The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities.”

Yee also feels that in addition to the privacy of students and workers, accessing social media accounts may invade the privacy of family members and friends who thought they only were sharing information with their own social media network.

“These social media outlets are often for the purpose of individuals to share private information – including age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation and personal photos – with their closest friends and family,” said Yee. “This information is illegal for employers and colleges to use in making employment and admission decisions and has absolutely no bearing on a person’s ability to do their job or be successful in the classroom.”

Yee's website quotes Shannon Minter, Legal Director for National Center for Lesbian Rights, as saying that the practice of requesting social media passwords is the equivalent to reading a personal diary, and that LGBT employees, job applicants, and students already face significant obstacles when applying for schools and jobs.

Minter said that Yee's bill helps ensures individuals are “judged by their qualifications and performance, rather than elements of their private life.”

Before becoming law, SB 1349 will be considered by the State Assembly. If passed, it will be sent to the Governor for his approval.

What do you think? Is it appropriate for employers to request specific social media account information from current and potential employees? Does viewing a person's Facebook or Twitter account show a true reflection of the kind of employee that person may be? Or is this a violation of personal rights, and not related to future job performance?

Let us know in your comments, and vote in our poll below.

Lou Covey, The Local Motive May 29, 2012 at 07:28 PM
@Pacificat. It was done at one employer back in March and caused Facebook to threaten to close down the company's Facebook page and file a lawsuit for violation of it's privacy policy. So the employer changed the policy. Hasn't happened since.
yesenia May 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM
solution: give us your password to your email....ooops, that should read, Solution: get off your computer
Dogbert May 30, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Sounds like the makings of a pretty obvious scam to me. In this troubled economy, where peeps are begging, borrowing and stealing in order to stay afloat, expect to start seeing phony employment ads for nonexistent jobs. I can see it now, "High paying job. Easy work that you can do in the comfort of your own home wearing your bathrobe and bunny slippers and while watching TV and eatiing bon-bons. Please send us a copy of your resume along with your FB, Twitter, email and online banking passwords..." That P.T. Barnum was one smart dude!
Phyllis McArthur May 30, 2012 at 01:47 AM
VERY good, dogbert!
Wooba Gooba with the Green Teeth June 02, 2012 at 11:48 PM
An employer asking for a prospective employee's FB password seems like a veiled integrity test to me. As anyone who has registered for FB should know, sharing of passwords violates the Facebook Terms of Service and can result in termination of your FB account.

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