Employer demands Facebook password during interview

Late last year a man -- Officer Robert Collins -- from Maryland was asked to give his Facebook login email address and password during a recertification interview with the Maryland Division of Corrections (DOC). Now, it has been made aware that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sent a letter to Gary Maynard, Public Secretary, on behalf of Robert Collins. The letter relates to the DOC's blanket requirement that new applicants, as well as those applying for recertification, are to provide the government with their social media usernames and passwords.

In the letter, the ACLU states that no one "deserve[s] to have the government snooping about their private electronic communications"; they stress that the communication that goes on behind Facebook is intended to be private. Later on, they compare it to the likes of the government asking for personal pictures or listening in on private telephone conversations that have nothing to do with the job. "The DOC policy is illegal under the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA)," they assert.

To note, the DOC's policy is quite different than browsing their prospective employees' public social profiles. Instead of happening to read something that was not set private by they user's own discretion, it would be more like being able to go through their emails.

Collins clarified, in a video describing the events, that he "has used the settings on Facebook to maintain the highest level of privacy that's afforded to [him]." He called the fact that an employer could look through his religious beliefs, his sexuality, and his personal photos and posts "an absolute, total invasion."

The ACLU has yet to receive a response from the Press Secretary or the Maryland government.

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55 Comments

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So.. if you don't use social media teh governments won't hire you? isn't that discrimination as well?

What this is telling me is they think of facebook and flickr and **** as portfolios - so design yourself your hiring portfolio on there.

There is a law enforcement agency in Nevada that asks for this info as well. This isnt the only place in the country.

They cant demand anything like that. What makes Facebook so special from say personal email accounts etc they cant demand it. Fact. This whole thing is getting ridiculous.

This is a blatant and outright violation of a persons right to privacy.
What you do when you're not at work is no one's business but your own.

netsendjoe said,
This is a blatant and outright violation of a persons right to privacy.
What you do when you're not at work is no one's business but your own.

I agree, however I know of people who have been fired from jobs due to posts on Facebook and videos posted on YouTube.

neo158 said,

I agree, however I know of people who have been fired from jobs due to posts on Facebook and videos posted on YouTube.

Yeah I mean if say Burger King tells me not to take pictures of the kitchen, thats understandable.

netsendjoe said,
Yeah I mean if say Burger King tells me not to take pictures of the kitchen, thats understandable.

That's not quite what I mean, I know a guy who used to work at PC World, yeah I know it's not the best employer, and he got fired for posting a video of his personal opinion on PC Performance, the PC World "extended warranty".

neo158 said,

That's not quite what I mean, I know a guy who used to work at PC World, yeah I know it's not the best employer, and he got fired for posting a video of his personal opinion on PC Performance, the PC World "extended warranty".

I do believe they would be in the right if you state that you are an employee at the company you're slandering.

sounds like the compnay I used to work for, ownership changed while i was employed there and their new recruiting methods and policcies were quite draconian.

Kinda provides a bit of irony.. put up LIKE up top for facebook. so... now what. someone gonna get my PW and find this article. what goes around comes around

I'm a law & order conservative, but, if my employer, or the government wanted ANY of my non work computer related passwords, I'll tell them to STFU & GTFO.

naap51stang said,
I'm a law & order conservative, but, if my employer, or the government wanted ANY of my non work computer related passwords, I'll tell them to STFU & GTFO.

I totally agree, I would say the same. It's none of their business.

This article is misleading. The local news reported on several occasions with this incident that the DOC "asked" for the applicant to voluntarily give up this information. According to Collins the DOC allegedly INSISTED that he give up the goods. The employer was given the password and then proceeded to go through his pages and whatnot, but it's important to note that the amount of legitimacy to this insistence is in doubt because of Collins' own words. Did he question why? Did he say "no" and then get faced with the possibility of not getting the job? None of that was ever stated in the interview that I've seen so he willingly gave up his password.

The excuse that the DOC gave as to why they ask for this information to be given up is to check on possible gang affiliations and other questionable contacts. While I don't agree with the idea of asking for someone's personal information I also don't agree that things went down as people are perceiving it.

sava700 said,
Another read to delete Facebook from your life!

Or delete that job from your life. You shouldn't feel a need to stop communicating with your friends and family just because you've found a new job run in nazi style.

So what you could do is create a bogus Facebook profile. One you create just for that job.
I agree its an invasion of privacy and all that, but some people really need a job, so they want something, they got it.

ghos said,
So what you could do is create a bogus Facebook profile. One you create just for that job.
I agree its an invasion of privacy and all that, but some people really need a job, so they want something, they got it.

What you could do is also to not work for that company. These practices shouldn't be condoned, and if this happens already at the job interview, you can be sure this mentality can be found throughout the workplace after you're hired too. I can only assume your e-mails will be monitored there too, for example.

The solution to this problem:

1) Interviewer asks for password.
2) Politely decline.
3) Interviewer insists.
4) Politely decline, get up from your chair, shake hands, and depart ways.

If your employer wants your Facebook details at all, that's not a place you want to work.

Majesticmerc said,
The solution to this problem:

1) Interviewer asks for password.
2) Politely decline.
3) Interviewer insists.
4) Politely decline, get up from your chair, shake hands, and depart ways.

If your employer wants your Facebook details at all, that's not a place you want to work.

Asking personal questions during an interview is illegal by EOE laws.

Jebadiah said,
Asking personal questions during an interview is illegal by EOE laws.

agreed. but with the current imbalance between potential employers and the number of candidates, the ability to be reckless seems to be easier to come by......

Majesticmerc said,

All the more reason to leave the interview!

All the more reason to sue the employer and get cash through a lawsuit.

Majesticmerc said,
The solution to this problem:

1) Interviewer asks for password.
2) Politely decline.
3) Interviewer insists.
4) Politely decline, get up from your chair, shake hands, and depart ways.

If your employer wants your Facebook details at all, that's not a place you want to work.

Ha! I thought you were going to end that list with something like, "fold up chair and slam over interviewer's head like it's the WWE"

Majesticmerc said,
The solution to this problem:

1) Interviewer asks for password.
2) Politely decline.
3) Interviewer insists.
4) Politely decline, get up from your chair, shake hands, and depart ways.

If your employer wants your Facebook details at all, that's not a place you want to work.


Agreed. This is clearly not a work place that would be compatible with my views on privacy. It's not just about asking for a Facebook password, it's about the mere idea. If this happens at the interview, you can be sure they'll be invading your privacy after you're hired too. "Just to make sure you're doing your job."

Majesticmerc said,
The solution to this problem:

1) Interviewer asks for password.
2) Politely decline.
3) Interviewer insists.
4) Politely decline, get up from your chair, shake hands, and depart ways.

If your employer wants your Facebook details at all, that's not a place you want to work.

No, the right way to handle this is:

1) Interviewer asks for password.
2) Interviewer says he doesn't have a Facebook Account.

As long as you don't:

use your own pic for a profile pic,
your account is private,
your email address used for Facebook is not on your resume,
and you didn't hand it to the interviewer as an alternative email address

they can not prove a thing. People, use common sense. Believe me when I tell you the government is dumber than the people.

Tim Dawg said,
Ha! I thought you were going to end that list with something like, "fold up chair and slam over interviewer's head like it's the WWE"

That's an equally valid response as well.

What if you don't have/want facebook?
Are we moving into a time where your profile on one website is equal to a national insurance number/social security number?
This is like giving someone you don't know the root password to your social life. They can do anything they want and there are no controls to stop them changing things and chatting to your friends as if they are you. You might have things on your profile that you only share with a few close friends, things that your boss will now know.
Things like this make me angry
T8

There will always be tiny little men with tiny little jobs who want to increase their infinitesimal smidgen of imaginary power any way they can.

excalpius said,
There will always be tiny little men with tiny little jobs who want to increase their infinitesimal smidgen of imaginary power any way they can.

For example, Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.

I smell a rat!

Maybe he was mistaken, or rogue employer getting policy wrong, I bet there's no such policy!

Facebook details don't mean password.

Now are they an organisation that watch people on leaving prison? Maybe interviewer confused as probably do require criminal logins as part real ease order?

Just guessing.

"Binetti defended the "requests" because of the concern about gang infiltration of Maryland prisons. The agency doesn't want to invade anyone's privacy, he said; it wants to keep correctional officers and inmates safe.

The policy had been in place for about a year and applied only to social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace). Binetti said applicants were not asked for passwords for personal e-mail accounts."

http://www.hometownannapolis.c...sword-or-your-job.html?ne=1

It was typically only a request. However, in order to get the job he would have to supply the information... so what they call a request is in actuality a demand. This simply needs to be stopped.

azure.sapphire said,
"Binetti defended the "requests" because of the concern about gang infiltration of Maryland prisons. The agency doesn't want to invade anyone's privacy, he said; it wants to keep correctional officers and inmates safe.
See, to me this makes no sense. First off, if you're concerned about gang affiliations then talk to the gang task force at the candidates local police or sheriff's department. They'll have much better information. Second, how many "O.G.'s" or "hardcore gangsta thugs" are advertising such affiliations on FaceBook? I can just picture it now. By day he's a clean shaven, well dressed, educated, well spoken young man but on the weekends he has gold teeth, baggy pants, tattoo's, walking the streets drinkin 40's and talking about his bitch's and ho's. Yeah, makes sense...

TCLN Ryster said,
Disgusting... whoever approved this policy needs to be fired.

I agree. I use Facebook all the time. However, the really raunchy stuff (politically incorrect, sexist, racist, perverted, all of the above) are still sent by email. If they really wanted to know how I really am, they would need to monitor that. lol

UndergroundWire said,

I agree. I use Facebook all the time. However, the really raunchy stuff (politically incorrect, sexist, racist, perverted, all of the above) are still sent by email. If they really wanted to know how I really am, they would need to monitor that. lol


Well apparently you're a non-politically correct, sexist, racist pervert, haha.

Panda X said,
You shouldn't have to give out personal passwords to facebook to anybody. That's just stupid.
Correct. And what's even more stupid are the 500 million idiots who start complaining about privacy breaches on a site on which they willingly and explicitly put their personal information on.

Jebadiah said,
Correct. And what's even more stupid are the 500 million idiots who start complaining about privacy breaches on a site on which they willingly and explicitly put their personal information on.

What about the people who share info and restrict their profile to just their closest friends, and then the privacy settings constantly changing cause them to share more than they meant to?
I'd equate an analogy same as you receiving postal mail and the Post Office changing their policy so the postman starts opening all your mail and showing it to your neighbours. But hey they're idiots for using the public mail eh, they should have had private couriers

Jebadiah said,
Correct. And what's even more stupid are the 500 million idiots who start complaining about privacy breaches on a site on which they willingly and explicitly put their personal information on.

Not everyone is an idiot and not everyone one on facebook complains. You might not like facebook, but calling all facebook users idiots is uncalled for. I am a facebook user, but i take extreme care not to post anything personal. Unlike others who post their 24 hour routine or do stupid things.

Jebadiah said,
Correct. And what's even more stupid are the 500 million idiots who start complaining about privacy breaches on a site on which they willingly and explicitly put their personal information on.

The only idiots I see here are people assuming everyone is unaware of Facebook's privacy features. Don't make assumptions please. I use Facebook and I have it set so only my friends see what I write. My profile pic is not of me (which means no one knows for sure if it's the right person or not), I don't use any email for my social networks that is in anyway associated to my resume and only I can see who tags a photo of me.

In the future please don't make broad assumptions. You just sound like an idiot.

Youngy said,

What about the people who share info and restrict their profile to just their closest friends, and then the privacy settings constantly changing cause them to share more than they meant to?
I'd equate an analogy same as you receiving postal mail and the Post Office changing their policy so the postman starts opening all your mail and showing it to your neighbours. But hey they're idiots for using the public mail eh, they should have had private couriers

Where in the USPS TOS does it say that they own your mail? Facebook owns the content you post on that website. Comparing postal mail to Facebook is wrong to say the least.

spenumatsa said,

Not everyone is an idiot and not everyone one on facebook complains. You might not like facebook, but calling all facebook users idiots is uncalled for. I am a facebook user, but i take extreme care not to post anything personal. Unlike others who post their 24 hour routine or do stupid things.

Read what Rapleaf does.

Edited by Jebadiah, Feb 26 2011, 3:00am :

Jebadiah said,

Where in the USPS TOS does it say that they own your mail? Facebook owns the content you post on that website. Comparing postal mail to Facebook is wrong to say the least.

Facebook may claim to own that information however your employer does not. This is no different to handing over e-mail passwords. If Facebook decides to hand over that information then it a different subject however the information is password protected and contains privacy options for a reason.