Should employers ask candidates for Facebook passwords?
Should employers be allowed to ask employees or job applicants for their Facebook user names and passwords during the course of a job interview?
It’s been reported that some private and public agencies nationwide are doing just that.
That’s a topic that has a lot of people talking.
Locally, though, employers say they aren’t asking for passwords, and don’t expect to do so anytime soon.
‘An invasion of privacy’
Rachel Untz is president of the Rock River Human Resource Professional Association, which provides human resources managers in Mount Morris, Oregon, Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls the opportunity to network with other professionals.
“Requesting employees’ Facebook passwords is viewed, from a human resources perspective, as an invasion of privacy,” unless the employee is being asked to manage a Facebook page for the company, she said.
Unless there is a specific purpose to ask for a Facebook or email password, human resources professionals shouldn’t be doing it, she said.
As a job applicant or employee, “You have to figure out: Why is this person asking for the information. ... What are they going to do with it?” she said.
Jerry Binder, director of human resources for Sterling Public Schools, said the district doesn’t ask for such information.
“I don’t think we have any right to anybody’s password,” he said.
The district primarily uses Facebook to disseminate information, Binder said.
It already has a process in place to check the backgrounds of prospective employees.
If he was offered access from a prospective candidate, he would wonder why.
“In my world of HR, the process of talking and interviewing and being qualified is more important than what I might or might not see on someone’s Facebook page,” Binder said.
Dixon Public Schools also does not ask for that information, Superintendent Michael Juenger said.
He did say, though, that screening process should check out prospective candidates online, to “see what might be out there without having to check passwords.”
Sauk Valley Community College President George Mihel said his school also has a strict screening policy, so he said he doesn’t expect to go the social network route.
“For the time being, it’s not something I would think needs to be done,” Mihel said. “We do a very adequate job of checking on people’s background. We’ve been very successful in doing that.”
David Schreiner, president and CEO of KSB, also said that asking potential employees for their social media log-in information is “inappropriate.”
“I don’t see the advantage to it,” he said. “I don’t think that’s our place to do that.”
The hospital does uses social media to communicate with the community.
Ed Andersen, president and CEO of CGH Medical Center, agrees.
“That’s just going too far,” he said. “That’s like eavesdropping on phone calls. This is just too much.”
U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, said he doesn’t think employers should have access to personal information.
“It’s a privacy matter,” Schilling said. “When I have my Facebook and gmail passwords, that’s for my privacy and not someone else. Individuals have a right.”
Schilling said he supports a move by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who have called on the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate the practice.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, said in an email that the issue warrants a closer look “to determine whether those practices are illegal under current law.”
“If legislative action is needed, I will make sure to act accordingly to ensure people’s privacy rights are adequately protected,” he wrote.