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Requiring Employees to Provide Social Networking Passwords: Invasion of Privacy?

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April 5th, 2012

When filling out a job application, you can expect to provide your future employer with personal information such as your address. What you would not expect, however, is to be required to hand over your house keys for a home inspection. Such is what is happening virtually to a growing number of job applicants in regards to their social networking sites.

According to an article on, an amendment meant to give the FCC the right to bar employers from requiring employees to provide social networking account passwords was shot down by the House of Representatives recently. This growing trend that demands employees to allow their employers access to their accounts has savvy social networkers everywhere scrambling to remove any content from their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. that might be considered questionable.

These social networking sites are supposed to be just as their name indicates:  Social. There certainly is some merit to an employer checking a prospective employee’s Facebook page, for example. It is a look into the life of the individual that the company is considering hiring and will count on to complete tasks and promote business. The problem comes with the demand for the passwords to these accounts. This would allow employers access to private messages and personal information that, let’s face it, probably isn’t any of their business.

So what do you do if your prospective employer asks for your social networking passwords?  You can politely offer to allow him to become your friend on Facebook or to follow you on Twitter. Another option is to create a Linkedin profile, which is targeted specifically at professionals. If all else fails and the employer is insistent, you will need to take a step back and determine if this is a job you really want to have. If the answer to that question is yes, then you know what you have to do:  Delete, delete, delete.


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