Should you give up your Facebook password for a dream job?

Summary:A Maryland government employee refused to hand over his Facebook login password during an interview to get his old job back. Would you give prospective employers the keys to your Facebook?

Imagine this. You've left university with a good degree, and after months of searching you have found what could be the perfect job.

The one caveat is that you are required to hand over the keys to your Facebook profile and other social networks to proceed.

But for one person, the intrusion was too much to bear. A Maryland corrections officer refused to hand over his Facebook login password during an interviewto be recertified for his old job with the Department of Corrections.

The practice has now been suspended pending a review, which was designed to check for gang and organised crime affiliations, though it calls into question the practices prospective employers in both the public and private sector can ask of you to gain employment.

How far would you go to attain that perfect job? Would you give up the most private and intimate details of your life, or even your email and social network passwords?

However, it makes sense to screen and to vet prospective employees at the highest level to ensure they are trustworthy, not liable to persuasion and pressure, and that they are not connected to other criminals who could exploit their position, like police officers and intelligence officers.

These practices, known as vetting, occur from working with children in youth projects and to the highest levels of government, to ensure unethical and unsavoury characters do not slip through the filters.

There is no doubt there are some jobs out there which do require the highest level of security and assurances from employers, but what about regular employment?

Personally, to some extent, I am in favour of this to a lesser or greater extent. Many others will disagree. But I think that social networking takes up such a large part of our lives, it is important for a government as an employer to at least see, along with regular vetting processes, to validate whether a person is connected to people involved in crime which could undermine their position.

On the other hand, it is private - provided one locks down their profile from the outside world, and should be treated like postal mail, email and our personal preferences to life and society. But for 'regular' employment should not ask for passwords to check what a person is like, as this is a gross invasion of privacy.

It is a highly contentious issue and there are no right and wrong answers. I suppose it all boils down to the individual person.

Should you give up your Facebook password for a dream job?

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Topics: Social Enterprise, IT Employment

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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