Why Asking for a Job Applicant’s Social Media Password is Fair Game

In his essay “Why asking for a job applicant’s social media password is fair game,” Alfred Edmond argues that it is rational for employers to access workers’ Facebook profiles in order to learn useful information about them (Edmond, Alfred). According to Edmond, the details obtained from the employee’s Facebook account can protect clients while also allowing the boss to know who they are hiring. For example, if an applicant is applying for a daycare job, Edmond explains that information from their Facebook account will provide the employer with valuable data that will help protect the children. However, I believe that, while it is crucial to comprehend the employee’s character through social media, understanding their rights of privacy and protecting them from discrimination also paramount.

John Wooden once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” True to the statement, these days, people tend to be themselves and expose their character on social media than they would in a social gathering (Debatin, Bernhard, et al. 89). One may appear peaceful and calm in a social setting, but a serial troll and abuser in social media. Thus, during an interview, if the boss gets hold of the password and scrutinizes these posts and comments, he will get understand the person’s character. Moreover, the more job-related information the employer retrieves about the employee before making the hiring decision, the better their working relationship would be. Yes, it can be said that the information extracted from one’s Facebook can reveal vital information the employer would find useful in making his decision to hire the individual.

Yes, it can be said that anything shared on social media is not truly private, and thus, the preconceived notion of privacy should not hinder one from giving out this information to their potential bosses. If one considers a particular event private, he or she does not want anyone, let alone their bosses, to find that information. Thus, when someone decides to post pieces of information on their Facebook pages, they have given license for all to view. Moreover, the comments, pictures, and messages we send out to our friends of Facebook stay there forever; once uploaded to the site, there is no coming back. When the boss gets the password and goes through this information, he/she is just reading what other people already know about the potential employee. Hence, if the information the boss obtains from these post points to a violent person, a child molester, a racist, or such a character, then he or she has the right not to hire the employee. This way, the boss protects not only his company but also its clients and other employees from the questionable character.

Some people accessing an applicant’s Facebook or other social media may cause the employer to violate laws against discrimination. For instance, when the boss accesses the applicant’s social media account, he/she may obtain information not considered as a part of the hiring process including race, religion, age, or family status (Debatin, Bernhard, et al. 86). As such, the applicant may easily be discriminated based on this information without getting any evidence. However, if the employer takes serious measures to ensure that such personal information does not interfere with the hiring process, then he/she can proceed to scrutinize only job-related information. Accomplishing such thoughts may require proper review of the hiring processes and questions pertaining the employment application. Nonetheless, the extent at which a potential employer would go cannot be easily estimated, leaving room for possible violation of the applicant’s rights against discrimination.

Furthermore, Facebook and most social media sites take a hard stance on protecting user’s privacy (Sánchez Abril, Patricia, Avner Levin, and Alissa Del Riego, 67). As such, they consider attempts to force the users to disclose passwords as a violation of their terms and services. From a business point of view, the social media companies have the rights to sue any attempt from any organization to force its applicants to give out their passwords. Nevertheless, employers may ask applicants to remove any block to access their Facebook sites or require them to accept their “friend” requests. Even then, the social media providers will find it hard to manage the vast universe of widely shared information. Respecting the terms and conditions of the social media sites can present a hurdle so hard for the employers to overcome. Thus, they will have to come up with other measures just to analyze their potential employees – such a big hustle for a little information.

In conclusion, I agree with Edmond that accessing a potential employee’s Facebook or other social media accounts may present the employers with crucial information regarding the person’s character and behavior. Additionally, the data extracted may provide insights as to employ the person or not. Moreover, the review of this information may help prevent the company from hiring people who may harm the company’s image, or hurt the company’s clients and other employees. However, measures should be undertaken to ensure that the bosses do not violate the applicant’s discrimination rights or Facebooks (and other similar sites) rights of privacy. That way, the both the employer and the employee will get the best ends of the bargain from the whole situation.

Works Cited

Edmond Alfred, Jr. “Why Asking for a Job Applicant’s Facebook Password Is Fair Game.” Black Enterprise, 2017, http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/employers-asking-for-a-job-applicants-facebook-password-is-fair-game/.

Debatin, Bernhard, et al. “Facebook and online privacy: Attitudes, behaviors, and unintended consequences.” Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication 15.1. 2009: 83-108.

Sánchez Abril, Patricia, Avner Levin, and Alissa Del Riego. “Blurred boundaries: Social media privacy and the twenty‐first‐century employee.” American Business Law Journal 49.1 2012: 63-124.

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