With the unemployment rate above 9%, millions of Americans are desperately in search of a job. Yet, is it fair for employers to ask applicants for their username and password to social media sites like Facebook?
Today, more than 50% of employers rely on social media when recruiting applicants. At first glance, why shouldn’t an employer be able to surf the web and gather information from a public site? Certainly, it seems fair to learn if a prospective employee is coming in with questionable judgment. Yet, problems arise when employers go a step further and ask job applicants for access into their password protected accounts. In fact, exactly that happened in Bozeman, Montana. Two years ago, the city of Bozeman passed a law which compelled job applicants to supply their social media usernames and passwords. A public outcry quickly forced the city to do away with the policy.
Privacy settings on social networking sites exist for a reason. Users are able to control to what extent personal information is communicated to the outside world. Sure, the debate over privacy will continue as new technology emerges in the future, but situations such as what occurred in Bozeman are red flags for job seekers. We understand the economic difficulty that many Americans face today. Still, prospective employees ought to be cautious about providing their Facebook username and password to potential employers.