It's not uncommon for employers to ask potential hires for Facebook passwords these days. But, a new Act that was recently introduced into the House of Representatives might put a stop to this intrusive demand. The 'Password Protection Act' would make it illegal for employers to ask for a candidate's Facebook (or other) password. A law, in this writer's opinion, that needs to be passed.
Why do employers need access to employee Facebook accounts? This question remains entirely unclear. It's easy to speculate, though, that some employers simply want to keep employees under a strict thumb by using intimidation tactics. Being able to log into a Facebook account means that employers can carefully monitor all activity, see what employees are up to, and keep tabs on anyone that does anything against company policy. Yikes.
Passing This Act
Representatives from Colorado and Vermont (D) originally introduced the bill stating "People have an expectation of privacy... they have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets..." In other words, your rights as a U.S. citizen (not so much elsewhere, I'm afraid) are completely violated when employers ask for your login information.
However, there's no specific law that currently exists to deal with this violating, so, technically, it's not a breach of any law. It's a case of laws needed to catch up with fast-paced technology. The problem is that changing a law is anything but quick.
Does this actually happen? Last year, Forbes printed an article on the growing trend. You see, the problem is that the economy is bad and people need work. When an employer is potentially interested in a candidate, that candidate might not be able to refuse the request to dig around inside of a Facebook profile. It's a form of bullying that has to stop.
The aforementioned Forbes article included that closing statement that "...the problem is that it’s not altogether clear that a law prohibiting any employer from demanding access to your Facebook page would be a very free world, either." Really? Creating a law that prevents employers from asking for such private information would lead to a violation of, say, employer privacy? Anyone care to weigh in on this statement?
The Act Remains an Act for Now
The Password Protection Act has to be passed in order to be made into a law. This could take some time. What can you do now if an employer asks for your Facebook password? My advice is to consider your dignity. Sure, you might really need that job badly, but your boss has no right to go digging around in your private life. Employers can already look at any social media profile you have - password access is really not necessary.
If you want to stand behind this Act, make sure to pass this article around - not just because I want you to promote the article, but because it's really important. Without a law prohibiting employers from tapping into social media accounts, job seekers are at the complete mercy of too-nosy employers. Stand up. Speak out. Stop the insanity. Spread the word today.