Employers Asking Job Applicants for Social Media Login Information

There has been a lot of discussion in the news media lately regarding the ethics of employers asking job applicants for their social media login information as part of the interview process.

In my view, the request/demand for this information is unethical, over-the-line and a clear violation of the candidate’s right to privacy. Asking for this information is akin to demanding someone’s house keys, marching in the front door, checking out what’s in the fridge, taking an inventory of the medicine cabinet and downloading their computer cookies. To be clear, your login information is private and is nobody else’s business but your own. And, as casual as the social media term ‘friend’ has become (in relation to what the word used to mean), just because you’re applying for one of their open positions doesn’t make a potential employer your friend.

Now don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with a company conducting an internet search of a candidate. After all, companies continually stress the importance of candidates doing their homework and coming for interviews prepared. For many candidates, this might mean doing their due diligence on a company by visiting Google, Linkedin or Faceboook. So, why is “Googling” the candidate any different? To me, if the information posted on the Internet is in plain view and readily available to the general public, then it’s fair game – for both sides.

Now with that in mind, a candidate needs to be smart regarding his/her internet presence. They need to be savvy of social media protocols and make intelligent decisions regarding what is posted and therefore public. Posting drunken party photos of yourself or making comments regarding your high consumption of meth on social media websites, is not a good idea. When I was young, an old-timer once told me to never do anything that I wouldn’t want my grandparents to read about in the newspaper. The same holds true here even if your grandparents aren’t on Facebook.

From my perspective, I see no issue with a company conducting an internet search of a job candidate and reviewing any information that visible and readily available to the general public. What is wrong and unethical is for the employer to request and/or demand a candidate’s personal, private login information as part of the interview process so a deeper search can be conducted. And finally, a person needs to take responsibility for their internet presence and make intelligent decisions regarding what they are posting.