Employers Would “Like” Your Facebook Password

Students are ready to graduate from college and have begun their “real world” job search. They have prepared their clean-cut resume and interview smile. But the last thing they expect is to reveal their Facebook password to their potential employer.

“I’ve heard about the whole Facebook and hiring thing, but I wasn’t sure what was really true,” said SUNY New Paltz third-year Amy Lee, “I have heard that some employers go through your Facebook pages or messages, but that’s going too far. There is a definite line.”

Employers are asking to view the Facebook pages of potential employees by requesting their Facebook passwords, which Facebook says is illegal. When someone signs up for a Facebook page, they sign a Terms of Service that clearly states they are not to give out their personal password for reasons of privacy.

Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote in a post on the site, “Facebook takes your privacy seriously.”

Egan said Facebook has no problem taking legal action to protect the security of their users.

“This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability,” Egan said.

SUNY New Paltz students also deem Facebook passwords off limits to businesses.

Lauren Link, a math education major at SUNY New Paltz, said, “I don’t think it’s their business. I don’t think my Facebook should determine if I get hired.”

Alyssa Stock, a SUNY New Paltz second-year in geology, agreed.

“I feel like people’s personal lives shouldn’t have to be mixed with their business lives,” she said. “And anyone who looks a certain way on Facebook may still be the best fit for the job.”

If a business goes through your Facebook, there is nothing between them and the full view of your page except privacy settings.

Professor Jason Wrench of the SUNY New Paltz’s Communication and Media Department, said, “I think it is ethically wrong for businesses to ask for your Facebook password. However, I don’t think it is unethical for businesses to look at your page.”

Facebook is a public and not a private forum. It provides the privacy settings, but it is up to the account user to make sure that they are being used desirably.

“Like it or not, you made it public,” Wrench said, “and there is not any pretense of privacy. If you haven’t set your privacy settings, that’s your own fault.”

Toni Pjetri, a SUNY New Paltz second-year in psychology, said, “It’s an obstruction of privacy for them to take your password but it’s fine for them to look,” she stated,” I mean sometimes they should.”

In other cases, employers are asking to be “friends” on Facebook with employees. This way they can view their employees’ pages freely and monitor what they are posting.

SUNY New Paltz psychology student Danielle Conklin said she was uncomfortable when her boss sent her a request. She felt she could accept it because she worked in such an “informal” work environment.

“It wasn’t much of a big deal until he would make it uncomfortable at work,” she said, “He would bring up what my friends and I did over the weekend because of photos he could see on my profile. It made it weird sometimes, but it didn’t get in the way of work.”

Being “friends” with a boss may be “uncomfortable,” but New Paltz student agree with a business’s right to look through your social media.

“It’s your responsibility as an adult on Facebook to monitor what you put out there. It’s a public source and you got to edit it because no one else is going to,” Toni Pjetri added.

Facebook and the issues that revolve around its usage are not going away. Editing and adding privacy settings are in a user’s control and can be utilized.

“The reality is,” Jason Wrench said, “that businesses are looking.”

Madeliene Forrester

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2012 Year in Review

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