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Concerns Raised After Employers, Colleges Ask For Facebook Passwords

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some employers are now taking the inspection of social media profiles to a whole new level.

In some cases, job seekers have been told to provide passwords to their personal Facebook page.

So will this practice become the new norm?

College senior Farhan Husain is going on the offensive following word that potential employers may be demanding Facebook passwords as part of the screening process.

"That is a serious invasion of privacy. I can't believe employers would go that far," Husain told CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan.

Some of the concern has been sparked by an MSNBC report that said applicants for jobs with Maryland's Department of Corrections were asked to log onto Facebook accounts and let the interviewer watch them browse through statuses, wall posts and photos.

That report also said that applicants were previously asked to give up their user name and password before an ACLU complaint put a stop to that practice last year.

Such a policy is also against Facebook's "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities," which states "You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account."

Student-athletes at some college programs across the country in certain cases have also been required to add a coach or school official as a friend so their social media postings can be monitored.

Husain and some of his friends are reacting to the news by setting up a public Facebook fan page and then a second private one, using a pseudonym.

Gerry Laytin is a Facebook user and worries job hunters could begin concealing their true identities out of concern their behavior, thoughts, and photos are controversial.

"This becomes a whole First Amendment, freedom of speech issue," Laytin said.

Rasmussen Reports conducted a poll on the topic and got the following results:

  • 70 percent say no company should have access to your password.
  • 35 percent: it should be illegal to use Facebook as hiring criteria.
  • 33 percent think it's okay to fire an employee for an inappropriate post.

Attorney Paul Rubell is a social media expert and expressed awe over the evolution of defining personal information.

"Marital status, sexual orientation, race, minority status and now we are talking about Facebook status," Rubell said.

Rubell said Facebook scrutiny has reached an excessive and illegal level of invasiveness.

Currently, many in social media are watching the implications of a California court fight. One employer is battling his employee over the rightful owner of the worker's Twitter account.

Are you worried your employer may demand your Facebook password?  Would you consent?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

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