Employers ask for social media login information

Hannah Fermanich

Businesses throughout the country have created an entirely new obstacle for job seekers; a recent trend amongst employers is to ask applicants for their Facebook login information.

In an effort to learn even more about potential employees, businesses are asking applicants to either divulge their Facebook login information or to sign in to their profiles during interviews.

With access to photos, friends lists and wall posts, employers will gain a whole new level of intimacy with their job applicants.

“Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries – why should they be able to ask them for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. in a press release.

Being right for the job is no longer restricted to possessing the right skills to do the work.

“These issues haven’t been dealt with before,” said Steve LaFond, assistant director of Career Services.

According to LaFond, employers want to learn as much as they can about an individual before signing them on as part of the company. They will try to use any and all information that they can access to help decide if that individual is the right fit.

“The good thing is that it’s being addressed now in the courts and legislation,” LaFond said. “This issue is still evolving and it’s probably going to be dealt with in the next year or so.”

Even though Facebook’s statement of rights and responsibilities strictly states that, “You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account,” enforcement of these rules has yet to be seen.

“I am alarmed and outraged by rapidly and widely spreading employer practices seeking access to Facebook passwords or confidential information on other social networks,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. in a press release. “With few exceptions, employers do not have the need or the right to demand access to applicants’ private, password-protected information.”

The Huffington Post reported that Illinois and Maryland are both working on legislation that would forbid public agencies from asking job seekers for access to their social networks.

Not only are employers using the information found on social networking sites, but other universities throughout the country have begun to use it as well.

“To me, their policy would have to contain something about character,” said Gerri Daniels, director of admissions.

According to Daniels, Northern does not screen their applicants based on their social media profiles.

They focus on the academic records of students, including which courses were taken in the past and what students scored on tests.

With the focus on academia, there has been no need for Northern to go to Facebook for information.

There are certain steps that job seekers can take in order to avoid issues that might arise from social networking sites.

“I recommend to job seekers that they periodically Google themselves to see what comes up on the internet or is said about them,” LaFond said. “Also review their social media sites to see if there’s anything controversial.”

Taking the time to go over what is publicly available on the internet is one of the biggest steps a job seeker can take.

“Realize that people form opinions based on what they see or hear,” Daniels said. “Know that anything you have out there someone might be making a decision on.”

If asked for their login information, LaFond recommends that job seekers indicate that they do not wish to give that sort of information.

“I would politely tell them that they are welcome to friend me and view my public information, but I do not believe that there is any reason for them to have my login information,” said Kayla McGee, senior English writing major. “If it costs me the job, so be it. If they are that adamant about having unrestricted access, then I do not want to work for them.”