What To Do When An Employer Requests Your Facebook Password

How private are you on Facebook? It turns out, it may not even matter. While employers are known to check out potential candidates on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, they’re not known for actually being able to log in to those sites – as the candidate!

A recent job search scandal revolves around employers asking for candidates’ Facebook and other social media passwords to circumvent any privacy settings put in place. Even though you may have controlled what you post and who sees it to make your public profile ultra work-appropriate, if an employer has your passwords, they can see everything.

Clearly, this is a hot subject. In fact, Maryland and Illinois have proposed legislation to make it illegal for public agencies to ask for passwords to social networks. Not to mention, the U.S. Department of Justice views entering a social networking site in violation of its terms of service as a federal crime. Since giving out Facebook login information is a violation of the site’s terms of use, employers requesting it are technically committing a crime.

Yet many candidates offer up their passwords out of pure pressure – jobs aren’t easy to find, and if you refuse the request, you could be out of the running. There are really only two options of what to say to this request: yes or no. Let’s look at ways to approach each one:

1. Yes

If you say yes to giving away your social media passwords to an employer, you’re basically signing away any right to privacy you have on these networks. But, if you need this job and feel like you will be denied the position if you don’t say yes to this request, it may be your only option.

2. No

If you feel like you would still have a chance at the job or you don’t desperately need this position, you would more than likely want to say no to this request. Remember, though, don’t burn any bridges. Be polite and professional and explain your reason for declining your password – like how it is an egregious breach of privacy.

In the end, you’re saying “yes” or “no” to this request; but, before you give a final answer, try one other thing:

3. Counter the request

Before succumbing to “yes” or deciding on “no,” try to negotiate with the employer and counter the request. Let them know that while you are very interested in the position, you feel that the request is a breach of privacy and also a legal breach of the Facebook terms of service. Be respectful, of course – don’t be obnoxious, even if the employer is! Let them know that some states are even proposing legislation to ban this practice, and that you would prefer to move on with the interview.

This approach may or may not be effective – eventually, you will have to come to the final “yes” or “no.” Be sure to make your opinion known in a polite and professional way.

Have you ever been asked for your Facebook password? How did you respond? Let us know below.