I think it is funny that I just (2-weeks ago) wrote about how Internet privacy, and privacy in general, doesn’t really exist. Then I read an article about employers asking for people’s Facebook passwords, and I get pissed. I guess I just happen to think there is a difference between companies using semi-personal information gleaned from my Bass Pro Shop profile for nefarious advertising deeds, and the people who you are hoping to work for essentially finding a way to ask you about things they are not legally allowed to ask you, and then deciding not to hire you because they don’t like the fact you’re a Catholic.
Not that it would be the “official” reason.
Before everybody pitches a fit; I don’t think it is something that is happening across the board. The articles I have read mention it being mostly in high profile, or public sector jobs, such as police and corrections officers, and 911 dispatchers. Also, we all knew this sort of thing was coming. Your personal activities have always been a liability in the job market, and people post the dumbest sh*t they do on the Internet for the world to see. I can even see reasons for employers wanting to take a peek on prospective employees Facebook pages to see if they are involved in questionable activities or have a habit of bad-mouthing employers.
It just doesn’t seem right, though. An employer asking somebody for their Facebook password, if their account is private, is pretty much asking to tromp around in their house, sit in on phone conversations, and hang out with the job seeker, their friends, and their family for a couple of weekends.
People use Facebook to keep in contact with friends, and family. While it may have seemed like a fun little thing at first, now they only way many people stay in contact with each other, as we are, more than ever, moving all over hell’s half-acre to find whatever it is we’re looking for, be it a job, a spouse, or an affordable home. If somebody has made their profile private, it is because they have the good sense to know not everybody wants to, or needs to see, what they are talking about with these friends and relatives.
What kind of information are employers looking for, anyway? Criminal activity? Affiliation with competitors? What you spend your spare time doing? Well, the first two seem okay, but anything else is going a little too far. If you’ve got a really bad drinking problem, or are some kind of porn-addict, chances are it is going to show up in other ways. However, if you go out once a week, and like to post pictures of your nights out, it might look like you have a drinking problem, even if you don’t. If you send a saucy of Jamie Lee Curtis’ head ‘shopped onto a porn star’s head to a friend because you are reminiscing about how hot she was in “True Lies”, it might look kind of funny. This is a major problem. You can’t really get too much information on what somebody is really like on Facebook. It is like a snapshot of what that person talks about with his friends and family. Take a look at your own Facebook page. Does it accurately describe you, or is it just little bits and and pieces? I’ve got lots of interests, but if you look at my page lately, you’d think all I do is watch cartoons.
Now maybe the people looking at your profile don’t give a flying feather about that stuff. They just want to know if you are a member of MS 13, or, whatever gang is popular these days. Not a problem. However, what if they’re not that professional themselves? It isn’t too far of a leap. There is way, way , way, too much danger of this being abused. People who hire people are people, and subject to having prejudices. Perhaps you have a few pictures of yourself enjoying a drink, but the HR manager is a teetoatler and thinks anybody who drinks is a scumbag. No job for you. Maybe the guy hiring you thinks anybody who watches Jersey Shore is a f*cking idiot, and you happened to “like it”. No job for you. What if you like to talk about video games and cartoons (me!) and the hiring manager thinks anybody who plays them after college is immature? No job for you. Perhaps if you don’t have all sorts of stuff related to your job field on your wall, and the potential employer thinks you are not “into” your work enough. No job for you.
I wouldn’t even doubt some hiring manager might see somebody they don’t like in your friends list and decide to pass you up because of it.
Don’t think it can happen? Oh ho ho. It can, has, and will.
Lets not forget information like marriage status, sexual preference, or religious preference, and political affiliation. Employers can’t ask you that stuff, but they sure can see it on Facebook. What a sneaky little way around that rule.
Again, I can understand employers wanting to be informed about who they are hiring. It is a strange time. There are a lot of talented people out there looking for work, and weeding through lots of qualified (or over qualified) candidates can be tough. Don’t forget, employers are now being held super-accountable for every fool thing their employees do. However, there are things in place, like f*cking background checks and personality tests. Way less invasive, and way more informative than a Facebook page. If the FBI can’t find something on the guy you are about to hire, you’re probably not making the right choice not hiring him because he’s fighting with his girlfriend on Facebook and has a picture of himself drinking a beer in a jersey belonging to your alma mater’s arch rival.