A belated shout-out to Pacific Business News for launching Social Madness, a competition to measure the growth of a company’s social media presence in a bracket-style tournament (a la March Madness, apparently, and hence the name). Think your company is up to the challenge? Learn more and enter for a chance to win cash for a charity of your choice.
Can employers ask job applicants for their Facebook password in a job interview? Employers and recruiters argue they should be allowed to vet potential employees, and let’s face it–an applicant’s social media profile is likely to be much more revealing than a 30-minute interview. But what about the privacy rights of applicants? Some commentators have compared password demands to requests to read a job applicant’s private mail.
Although no law directly prohibits employers from demanding access to the social media accounts of prospective employees, the practice is fraught with legal risks. Facebook has issued a statement frowning upon password demands and warned that it will “take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.” Federal and State legislators are also considering making the practice illegal. Sen. Robert Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has told Politico he is drafting a bill that will be ready “in the very near future.” Password demands could also run afoul of federal law. The New York Times reports that Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) have asked the Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether the practice violates the Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The bottom line? If you’re an employer and you demand to look at the social media accounts of your potential employees, you do so at your peril.