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Thought Leadership | Apr 16th, 2012

Should You Share Your Social Media Passwords with a Potential Employer?

Kent Lawson

Would you ever share your Facebook or Twitter login information if a potential employer asked for it? What if you getting the job depended on it?

According to the Associated Press, more and more employers are asking for this information from job applicants so they access the applicant’s social media accounts from company computers.

Most of the time, security and government agencies are the ones asking for social media login information. If you’re applying for this type of job, you probably aren’t expecting a lot of personal privacy.

But many other companies are asking applicants to ‘friend’ HR employees or to login to their Facebook and Twitter accounts during the interview process. And some companies now require that employees sign non-disparagement agreements that include a ban on making disparaging comments about the employer on social media.

For most of us, handing over our social media accounts is about the same as handing over access to our text or email accounts.

We get to choose who sees what we post on social media and probably every one of us has posted information at one time or another that we do not want a potential employer to see.

And if you are like most people, your social media passwords are probably a lot like your other passwords, so sharing these passwords may put your other online accounts at risk.

This new trend has even prompted lawmakers to introduce legislation that prohibits employers from asking for social media login information.

Indeed, Maryland seems to be leading the way with social media privacy laws nationwide -- new legislation there prohibits employers in the state from asking current and prospective employees for their user names and passwords to websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The bill -- if signed -- would make Maryland the first state to ban employer access to social media, though Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and California are considering similar legislation.

So what do you think? Should employers have the right to view a person’s social media accounts? And do we need laws to protect us from this kind of privacy intrusion?

The ACLU's blog has quite an interesting take on the issue -- and it also urges consumers to "urge Congress to pass similar legislation. Demand your dotRights (you can keep up with the campaign on Twitter and Facebook!). After all, your online privacy should be up to you, not the state you live in or your employer or school's whims."


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