Asking For Facebook Passwords… Disturbing?

    March 29, 2012
    Mike Tuttle
    Comments are off for this post.

This week, the Washington Post ran a story on an example of a potentially disturbing trend in Human Resources practices. They told the tale of Justin Bassett. Bassett was interviewing for a new job. In the course of the interview, he was asked for his Facebook password. Bassett refused to give it and even walked out on the interview, saying he did not want to work for a company that would ask for such personal information.

If Justin Bassett’s experience were an anomaly, a strange occurrence that most companies would not repeat, that would be one thing. But, it is becoming more and more common for employers to ask for such things. And, it doesn’t stop at Facebook passwords. Some employers are asking for Twitter and other social site passwords, as well as email passwords.

Do you think Justin Bassett was right to walk out? Tell us in the comments.

Employers Protect Themselves

It is not uncommon, and is almost expected nowadays, for employers to do comprehensive web searches on prospective employees. Companies want to know as much as they legally can find out about the people they are hiring. Is this person a habitual drunk? Does he have children? Does he have a tendency to bad-mouth his past employers publicly? Does he post potentially embarrassing material online?

Sometimes, a simple Facebook search will reveal a person’s profile, pictures, personal information, posts and comments. Especially with Facebook’s dizzying security and privacy policies and changes over the past few years, a person may not be aware of what they can hide and how. Combine that with Facebook’s incessant insistence that we “share” everything about ourselves so we can have a “better browsing experience”, and the possibility of embarrassing revelations gets almost unavoidable.

Employers who have not yet committed to hiring someone have free reign to reject their application for any legal reason, or no reason at all. They are under no obligation, generally, to explain themselves. So, any “hitches” their online search turns up could result in an application being summarily round-filed. It could be over political affiliation, lifestyle choices, friendships, opinions publicly stated, or any other reason. Employers don’t have to tell you why they “chose to go another direction”.

But, what if you’ve been careful? You’ve enabled privacy settings. You’ve insulated your Facebook and other accounts from public scrutiny. You Google yourself and run other checks regularly. Your public face is neat, even if your private life is wild. Is there some expectation that your life is your own? Can an employer rightly – or even legally – ask for your Facebook login and password so they can walk right through your meticulously set up barriers for privacy?

Justin Bassett thought not. And, he acted on his values in that case. He not only refused to grant access, but he withdrew his application and walked out. He was in that ideal position: to be able to evaluate his potential employer just as stringently as he was being evaluated. But, many people are not in a position to do that. They feel they must trade their opinions and values on such matters as privacy for a much-needed paycheck.

What do you think about an employee’s choice in such matters, when his paycheck depends on it? Tell us in the comments.

It’s A Hot Topic

The topic has come up a lot within the past few days. It has been a question that has been asked a lot on Twitter, resulting in such comments as these:

Forget the legalities, folks, if a potential employer asks for your Facebook password, you don’t want to work there. I promise. 1 day ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

If an employer asks for your Facebook password; it’s probably not a place you want to work at. 49 minutes ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

@TheTakeaway I would absolutely never give my Facebook password to an employer. We still have a right to privacy even in the information age 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

@mashable if my employer ever demanded my facebook password in order 2 keep my job, I wud give it to them, then promptly delete my account 50 minutes ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Regarding that last comment, remember that Justin Bassett, the man who walked out of an interview when asked for his password, was talking with an interviewer who was looking his information up then and there. Having a chance to delete his Facebook account was not feasible.

What About The Law?

But, what about legality? For example, would there be any sort of possibility of discrimination accusation in challenging an employers ability to ask for such private information?

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws cover the following things, even in the job advertising, recruitment, testing and hiring stages:

  • harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age;
  • retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices;
  • employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities, or based on myths or assumptions about an individual’s genetic information; and
  • denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group
  • An interesting question that could someday be addressed in court is whether an employer’s insistence on finding things that a prospective employee has deliberately hidden – by enabling full privacy on the Facebook account, for example – had revealed details about the employee that could be seen as basis for discrimination.

    For example, what if an employer insisted on someone’s password, received it because the person felt they had no choice, but the search then showed that the person had an otherwise undisclosed disability, religious affiliation or racial heritage?

    A Hypothetical Employer Nightmare

    Mark has applied for a position with XYZ, Inc. He is well-qualified, educated, experienced and otherwise suited for the job. He tests well, has a fantastic résumé, loads of references and a great portfolio. His first interview with the company went well and he has received positive signs.

    During the course of one of Mark’s interviews, the interviewer asks for his Facebook password. Mark has been careful. He has enabled privacy settings and is actually only Facebook friends with about a dozen people, all very close friends.

    Mark does not like being asked for his password, but he really needs this job. So, he gives it. The interviewer opens Mark’s account. It becomes quickly apparent from Mark’s Facebook timeline that he is a Mormon and has epilepsy. This is not information that any employer would have ever asked for on an application or in an interview. But, Mark had revealed it to his closest friends in a closed forum where he had an expectation of privacy.

    If Mark is denied the job, could he argue that he was discriminated against? Could he win? Would an employer want to put themselves in a situation where they were privy to that information? Or, would an employer figure that Mark’s agreeing to provide his password must mean that he was willing to reveal such information? After all, he could have said “No”.

    What if the interviewer’s search had revealed the result of some medical test, perhaps in a private message or email? HIPAA laws do not apply to employers. But if that medical information revealed some disability, what sort of issues could that raise?

    Is there a standard for expectation of privacy, especially regarding things that an employee does not do on company computers or on the clock?

    Orin Kerr is a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor. He calls asking for access to private information “an egregious privacy violation”. He adds, “It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys.”

    Some employers have adapted their policies. Now, rather than asking for an interviewee or employee to proved their password, they simply ask them to log in on a computer so they can then view the profile. But, that is still ruffling feathers.

    Do you think it matters whether your password is requested or you are simply asked to log in? Let us know your thoughts.

    The American Civil Liberties Union is now weighing in on this issue. ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said:

    “It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process. People are entitled to their private lives. You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account.”

    Robert Collins is another person who has faced this practice. Collins was a security guard with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. He took a leave of absence following the death of a family member. Upon his return, he was asked to submit to a reinstatement interview. The agency asked for his Facebook username and password in order to “check for gang affiliations”. Collins complied because, as he said, “I needed my job to feed my family.”

    After the ACLU filed a complaint, the Maryland agency amended its policy to simply ask employees to log in, rather than provide their password. But, the ACLU in Maryland is pushing for a Social Media Privacy Bill. The proposal is called House Bill 964 and “would prohibit employers from requiring or requesting employees or applicants to disclose their user names or passwords to Internet sites and Web-based accounts as a condition of employment.”

    The question that is most being asked about all this is: Can they do that, legally? Perhaps another that should be asked is: Would an employer want to, given the potential discrimination accusations it could expose them to – even if that accusation is ultimately unsuccessful? Asking for Facebook passwords could lead to some disturbing consequences for both the employer and the employee.

    What do you think? Could asking for private information be a nightmare for employers?Let us know in the comments.

    • Richard Krueger

      Employers can’t legally access an employee’s private information without a court order. Coming in an interview situation makes this request an act of intimidation, even theft — a demand for something of value (privacy) with no compensation.

      The correct way to handle the demand for personal passwords is to get it in writing, THEN walk out and post in on Facebook, Twitter, etc., with the thuggish employer clearly identified.

      • http://zenasmith.com Zena

        Totally right, because if you are a business person, self employed like me then all your information is linked via various sites. Getting into one account may mean you let people access lots of others too. I have a hard job remembering passwords and often log in to other sites using facebook so this infomation is shared with several sites. I don’t think I would want anyone being able to change my business details like phone numbers or email addresses for example. This is a good topic, I’m very intersted on hearing other people’s views.

      • http://majestone.com Chris Christensen

        It is appalling to think that employers think they have the right to personal information like passwords to social sites or email addresses. Where has personal privacy and our dignity disappeared to? No job is worth giving up your passwords for. There should be a law against such things. I would walk out also, after I give them a piece of my mind!!

      • Spamexterminator

        Absolutely correct I think it’s called the Privacy Act. He should go one step further than taking back his app and walking out he should sue the employer for invasion of privacy. The employer is only able to access PUBLIC information “LEGALLY” asking for a password is not only a complete invasion of privacy but the person who gives it out is stupid. Let me clarify if a applicant hands out his password to a potential employer who (who may or may not hire you anyways) who is to say that he is actually on the level and going to use your password to SPY on you. What if he uses it to change your password and then start committing ILLEGAL Acts under YOUR name, The Name on the account (Your Name)is the person who will be held legally responsible and possibly get sued or jailed over it. TAKE LEGAL ACTION NOW BEFORE IT GETS THAT FAR!!!

        • Spamexterminator

          And just think, if you play your cards right you may not have to ever work again.

        • Spamexterminator

          Also Giving them your log-in information and logging in on their computers are the same thing. I’m sure if they are that bent on getting your log-in information they have software setup on their computers that log your log-in information giving them your password without your knowledge. and again SUE!!! SUE!!! SUE!!! Bring that business to its knees, shut it down, or take it over.

      • http://www.bonustravel.info Sandee

        I agree with him most emphatically. These companies are violating the Privacy Act in both Canada and the US. They definitely have NO rights to that information . As far as I’m concerned they have a lot of gaul just asking the question. Shame! Shame! on any company that does this, obviously their ethhics are something to be desired.
        Sandee from BC, Canada

      • Michael Heinjus

        As a business owner i have had to deal with drug users, thieves, people whom have worked for me in the past, what did i really know about these people other than, they had references and wanted work.
        Any personal information provided by them remains secure. I agree that social networking sites passwords, like facebook should never be disclosed to anyone let alone employers. I myself have enough issues whereby information is taken and used, contact lists from emails, spammed advertising because i am on someones so called mailing list, which was stolen information from my computer or someone i know. The reasoning why they may want access to the information about a potential employee, so that they may keep tabs on them, use contact information for other purposes, the way they have gone about it isn’t legal and opens doors for litigation.

        • Spamexterminator

          Asking for someones password is the same as Identity Theft. If you don’t like how your employees are then fire them. But digging that deep into a good persons personal information rather you know that before hand or not is a CRIME!!! And I would not give a shit what you say about how you would never share, or how secure you say our most secret parts of our life would be. How the hell do I know you’re who you claim to be. I mean if I was applying for your company how would you feel if I asked you to give me your personal FaceBook password so I can tell if your the type of person I would work for. It’s just retarded and so is anyone who would ask such a thing. Besides everyone deserves the right to vent about assholes at work. And if it sheds a dark shadow over a company, well maybe that company should work on the problem not silence the wronged.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpLDI5gwIaY janet

        heres what u wanna do if an employer asks trust me it works http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpLDI5gwIaY

      • http://www.sensecreative.co.uk Joanne Thompson

        All power to Mr Bassett! Yes he was right in walking out – the Big Brother attitude of a company like that is to be scorned! As an employer in the UK I wouldn’t dream of asking for passwords to anything – we are an online company and have respect and trust for all our employees. The day I need to ask anybody for personal passwords is the day I need to retire to an institution and be certified.

        I agree that it would e great to publish the name of the employer – but… there are too many apportunities for hitting out at companies (who if they are innocent of the accusations) have no right to redress as to answer the complaint they would have to divulge details they hold. Its a no win situation really. But well done Mr Bassett!

    • http://www.inuitartofcanada.com Jacques Bandet

      I think he acted correctly by taking back his application for the job and walking out ! I would never ask a potential employee for his face book password, or what ever password for any social media. That is private ! And employers have no right in asking for such private info.

      Jacques Bandet

    • Rozan

      I totally agree with Jacques. I believe he acted correctly by walking out. Employers do not have the right to ask for private information.

    • Mick Courcier

      I believe it to be abhorrent and a huge infringement of both personal liberties and personal safety/security for employers to collect this kind of information about a candidate. What right do they think they have to rifle through someone’s personal data in this way? What will they do next? Hacking phone calls perhaps? Camping outside the candidates home with surveillance equipment? Interrogating their friends and family? Where will it end?

      This is an appalling revelation and it sickens me to think any employer believes they have the right to demand such personal information. Sure they can check you out on the web. If the information is freely available, I feel sure most sane people would do the same. That of course brings it’s own dangers as just like the press and media in general, there is a very slight chance that things may get distorted, sensationalised or miss-interpreted!

      What about the employers? If I wanted to interview for a job and checked out the employers bank balance, clients, directors personal lives, associations, affiliations etc., etc. I think there’s a slim chance I might get rejected and have a law suit slapped on me! So why do they think for a microsecond that it’s ok for them to do it?

      Disgusting practice and it needs to be illegal as is any pervasive intrusion of an individuals personal space and data.

    • Truthwillsetyoufree

      This would make me mad. I would have walked out to if they insisted. This is no different than asking for bank account information. I do not think this is even legal and if it is made legal then they are in for a fight. Overstepping again to even consider this.

    • Helen K.

      I absolutely think he was right to walk out. In fact,I praise him for doing so. I feel that asking for my password – to anything – is akin to going though my purse or looking at my bank records. Employers can reasonably ask about one’s interests, but it is unreasonable that they be allowed actively to intrude on the rest of one’s life.

    • http://www.cupcakesandcadenzas.com Denise

      I think he did the right thing and I would have done exactly the same.
      Even in this day and age people are entitled to some privacy. I think it would be reasonable for the company to want to access to information out in the public domain but nothing else.
      Thank goodness I’m self-employed!

    • http://spyimplants.webs.com don muntean

      I would have walked out BUT not before demanding the interviewer’s passwords! Just because someone is ‘paid’ by some company – doesn’t imply “ownership” – I think the trend of giving so much power to employers – is disturbing. There are just as many ‘bad bosses’ out there – do we have a right to make demands on them when looking for work? How about a complete record of past employees – job seekers need to know why people are leaving that company – a job seeker has a right to snoop into their lives – to see if ‘they’ are worthy of the kind of trust that an employee would have to invest in them?

    • http://www.biz-phone-repair.com garyj

      I would never give out any of my online passwords to any employer. If they find information that is public information, that is fair game. But giving out your passwords allows access to your private information. That is just plain wrong. However, I also believe in don’t post it if you truly want it to be private.

    • PDennis

      The truely scarey thing about this is, some employers are actually requireing that you accept a friend request from someone who works there. That means they pay someone to sit there, all day, going through the facebook accounts of everyone who works there, spying on you. This does not make for a happy work environment. Also, they say it they look for “objectionable” material. But what does that really mean? Sure, pics of the wild night at the bar may be embarressing, but what if you post a comment saying you endorse this or that political candidate, and the employer disagrees with your opinion? Is that objectionable? No, but I am sure some people would not get a job based on things like that.

    • http://www.hawaiicarrentaldiscount.com Frank

      This is a good indication of how you will be treated in the workplace. A company with no boundaries for personal information is telling you, we don’t care about YOU. Run don’t walk away from companies that have no respect for your personal information.

    • http://www.myfairytalebooks.com/ Dinesh Mistry

      I would have walked out too. That is simply not acceptable, its bad enough that employers troll social sites looking for information to begin with, but at least that is already public.

    • http://www.mylastdime.blogspot.com Stephan

      If the majority of potential employees refuse to give up their freedom for their employer, regardless of the consequences this nonsense will stop. Or, one could set up a dummy account on which he/she constantly posts about how much he/she adores working.

    • http://www.pestsupplywholesale.com Steve LaCroix

      That employer crossed the line. That request was in no way legitimate or reasonable in any way.

      The applicant should have said, sure, as soon as you give me your passwords!

      That kind of employer is the reason we need unions.

    • Dave D.

      I think obviously asking for their password is disturbing (anyone asking for someones password is just not cool, and should never be tolerated). I would have walked out as well, because that would never be a company/person I would be willing to work for. I’ve stopped and walked out of several interviews in my life…I had a rule that if anyone ever asked me to sell them a pen or anything like that I would walk out…I was willing to sell them something I use to sell…but not something I know nothing about. They are just trying to put you on the spot – some power trip thing I supposed for unnecessary middle management employees…

      I have girls I meet now friend me on Facebook so they can vet me…and then decide if they still want to go out with me…..makes things a lot easier….it’s like pre-screening job applicants. :)

      • AV

        Alright. This is almost like saying, let me see your stash of love letters from the past, give me recordings of every little conversation that you have ever had…with anyone, and everyone…and let me see your stash of porn. It’s ridiculous. Upright rude and impossibly justifiable.

        I can’t believe they can lawfully ask for that.

    • Maree

      Yes, this is certainly a privacy issue, the employer has no right to ask for these types of passwords, perhaps they would like the employees bank account passwords as well!!

    • http://whiteeagleaerie.com/ Nathan P

      I never had to give any of my details to my current employer, and if they asked, I’d quit in a heartbeat – I don’t share personal information like that ever unless I am ordered to by a court or other legal method (ie. for a police officer with a warrant)! That’s the way I’ll stick for future employers as well, and if I’m the one hiring, I’ll make sure to never ask for information like that!

    • http://www.effectivesales.sandler.com/ Michael

      That is strange. I haven’t heard of that except in court cases, but I would walk out too.

      Props to Basset for moving on! It takes guts when you are job hunting to pass on anything.

    • http://www.gate6.com Steven Saint-George

      Justin had every right to refuse and I applaud him for excusing himself from the interview. Having a job in this economy is very important but I am glad to see that some people have the courage to stand for freedom in a time where Americans have willfully given away so many of them. I also believe some employers feel empowered and as if job candidates are desperate to the extent they will yield to such demands. Hence we have this story and discussion today. I think it’s time we all start thinking a little more entrepreneurial before the beast consumes everything in its path.

    • http://ipsproperties.com David B

      Mr. Bassett’s response was completely appropriate, and I hope that any others confronted with such a situation would do the same. If an employer wants to look at a prospective employee’s social networking sites, they will see all they need to know based upon what that individual has chosen to make public. Employers have no right to such private information. I would say there ought to be a law, but there probably already is!

    • http://www.herdessa.com Lisa

      No one has the right to infringe on your privacy. Work, career and all professional matters should be kept separate from your personal life. What is next? Are they going to ask for your first born as a security deposit? I say draw the line when it comes to personal privacy……no ifs, buts or maybe!

    • http://www.theakurians.com General Bobby Farrell

      Not only should he have walked out – it should have been OVER the well-a**-kicked body of the interviewer … NOTHING ELSE WILL PUT A STOP TO THIS KIND OF SOCIALIST INTRUSION!

    • Dan

      I’d think the first time one of these “demanded personal accounts” gets hacked or missused, the company is going to be the first assumed liable even if they weren’t. Can’t imagine them wanting to be in the middle of that legal battle or even in the news for such nonsense. Given how many accounts get ganked every day, it’s only a matter of time. They aren’t thinking this through very well.

    • http://www.realmagnet.com Curt

      I commend Justin on walking out – the sense of entitlement from employers is over the line – that said, social grids and apps are becoming more and more intrusive these days, unbeknownst to the masses…in a very short amount of time, and unless you’re “off the grid”, everyone will know everything about you – we continue to feed the index of data under the guise of ‘social’ – instant marketing, etc will be the norm –

      Justin’s potential employer has their head up their arse…like most beuracracy’s –

      good for justin – but it will be moot soon anyway

    • http://www.trepaning.com/blog/ Brian

      This is akin to North Korea’s “everyone watch everyone else” state of paranoia. Stalin perfected it and it’s great for keeping people under thumb. There is also nothing stopping an employer from keylogging when they ask a potential employee to login instead of handing over their password.

    • http://www.tobesafeandsound.com Anne

      Justin was right in walking out. I would have also. The next thing you know employers will be asking for employees to bring in their diaries. Totally outrageous.

    • Paul

      His response to not give up the information, and to walk out would be be what I would do. In other for any relationship to succeed (work, or for that matter on a family level) trust in the main ingredient. How can you feel at ease knowing that someone is or maybe constantly monitoring your every move or comment.

    • Jane McDonald

      It is a bit shocking that employers would think it’s okay to ask for such personal information. If I were asked, I would respond that they can take a look at my Facebook business page, my LinkedIn profile, my Klout score, and even my Twitter postings. I’m proud of all of them. However, my Facebook information is private and personal and is of no interest to anyone other than my friends and family. The company should be ashamed of themselves for thinking it’s okay. If this happened to me, I would message this on social mediums and name the company and let them defend themselves socially.

    • http://www.mingle-spot.com will

      Wait a sec…..why do you need someones password to see wat they posted on FB anyway??? Hmmmmm…..I dnt have FB cuz I actually own a social network that does everything FB does plus more….since when did having a job require you to give up your personal life to get it too? This whole looking up pplz personal info is waaaaaayyyyy beyond seing if your qualified for the job…..I would understand if its a government job or somethin…..but any other job? Dnt we make $ so we can have a private life? And if you want my password then 2 words…PAY ME…pay me for allowing you to look at my private pix videos and such….since Bush allowed the NSA to openly admit they record and listen to pplz phne calls …where Nixon was almost impeached by tryin it……since no one bites this in the nose its gonna continue….federal laws should prohibit company’s from descriminating against someone for things they do off job sites and private life………ANONYMOUS……end of story

    • Jacqueline Bass

      Employees are people you employ to do a job, you do not own them. They will not be living and breathing your business, they will be working so that they can afford to feed their families and live. It is a gross violation of human decency to think the reach of a company should extend into an employees private interactions with their family and friends. Corporations should not be dictatorships. Whatever happened to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    • Joe

      I guess there’s a few ways to go about it:
      1. Do what Justin did. Of course, a question like this is too rediculous for someone with a choice. However, if you REALLY want the job for whatever reason, you could always go for option 2:
      2. Have a second dummy-account which has little info and is boring. Hidden option 3:
      3. Remove your profile picture and lie, saying you don’t use Facebook. Not everyone does, so it’s not inconceivable. As for email, just give the account for your pr0n/spam address. Your future boss should get the picture.
      For me personally, I’d go with Justin’s reaction, probably adding loud laughter + very public advertisement for this company’s hiring policy.

    • http://easyonlineclassifieds.com John Hogan

      Absolutely this is against everything America Stands for (or did at least). Most people also do not know but it is actually against the LAW for a potential employer to even ASK you for your social security number until that point in time that they actually NEED IT to file fica taxes on you (employed with them)….

      SSI numbers and the number system they use today were written well before Computers and as such were never designed to be secure in the digital age we live in today!

      Even a lowly hack such as myself CAN GET the first 5 digits of anyones SSI number without trying too hard to do so. New Employers even ASKING to have such information in THEIR very insecure database is just plain DUMB (until that point as they need to have it to file fica for you)…

    • http://rwalshphoto.com Ryan

      Good for him! If everyone stands up to these types of practices and abuse companies wont get away with it. I’m glad this story is getting publicity – in fact he should mention them by name if he hasn’t already. What ever happened to things you can and cant say during interviews – is this even legal?

    • H

      In first place I do not believe a bit of this story. No serious company would ever ask a future employee for a password of a personal account somewhere. I think this story is not only coming out of the blue but also way below your standards … can’t believe that you publishing this cr…

    • http://www.electric-reviews.org Mark D

      Next thing this employer could do with your password is to start advertizing using your account. They could ruin your good standing with any site.
      This needs to be illegal – employers should not even be able to ask for your passwords. Passwords are like a pin number at a bank and you would never give that to anybody would you?
      Username – Yes
      Password – Never

    • John

      Sure, give them the password. And pass along the keys to your home, too, so they can go through your private items there as well. There’s little difference–one is accessible remotely. They’re entitled to see your publicly accessible information (your public profile), just like they’re entitled to see the outside of your home as seen from a public street. But to ask for your password, or your keys, is an invasion of your private space.

      As to having to friend someone in the company, maybe you can accept his friend request in the middle of the night, and promptly block that person from seeing almost everything. Maybe let him see your favorite quotations, and then put some quote about privacy in there.

      There are laws that prohibit potential employers for asking certain types of questions during an interview, and this should be one of them. In fact, the answers to some such illegal questions may be found within your Facebook account–things that you only want to share with certain people. These practices seem to be a way around the law, and should themselves be illegal.

    • http://www.onemorebite-weightloss.com Kathryn Martyn Smith

      This seems a blatant attempt to obtain access to information you are not allowed to ask in an interview (such as sexual preferences, race, marital status, are you likely to become pregnant, etc.) Do they also ask to copy your house keys and please may I have a few signed blank checks?

      The Internet brings a new playing field and laws must quickly be drafted to attend to these new tricks around our privacy. With the current economic situation many would probably do it, rather than risk losing out the chance to score that fab job with the company that owns you.

      A password is as private as it gets and absolutely no one has the right to your private passwords, period. Frankly, the point of making your Facebook “not public” says all it needs to say. Keep out, private property (if only Facebook would stop defaulting everyone back to public).

    • http://www.swaydaily.com Sway Daily Views

      Corporations are becoming more greedy and evil by the day. And they will surely contribute to the downfall of America. I’d like to meet the A-hole who thought it would be o.k. to invade a person’s privacy. Obviously they don’t think they could ever be unemployed or they wouldn’t have come up with such a stupid idea.

      First it was… if you don’t have a job you need not apply being told to unemployed people, now this crap. I think he did the right thing by walking out of the interview. Although I would have one-upped him by asking the inhumane resource person to give me and everyone else I might have interviewed with for the job their Face book passwords too. After all, I’d want to know who and what kind of idiot employers I would be dealing with on a day-to-day basis too. If they’ve got the balls to ask for something so personal then they should be ready to have their private life under scrutiny too.

      Who knows… your next interview, they might ask to conduct a virginal probe or ask men why they need to take Viagra.

    • rcm

      Nay Nay. this has a full SnL skit written all over it!
      For the buffoon who asked the question should be out of a job. For the company that allowed the buffoon to ask such a question – deserves the full wrath of this social media lashing. As for Mr. Bassett’s response, cudos and I’m sure if he weren’t so flabbergasted by the question he may very well have asked “can I have that in writing” (good point by the way)…

    • http://www.qth.com Ham Radio Guy

      I’m really surprised that it is even legal for an employer to ask for private information such at this. I agree that it was the right thing to do — to walk out of that interview. It would sure be nice to know who the company was! Bravo, Justin, for having the courage to do so, especially in this job environment.

    • http://www.barnettassociates.net/ Toby Barnett

      Heavens no! I’d probably laugh at them and then tell them to pound sand. Its like a Nigerian email scam just point blank in your face.

    • Name

      Of course i wouldn’t like to work in a place like that.

    • http://www.McATEnt.com Al

      yes he was right

    • http://www.peppermaster.com Tina Brooks

      I’m glad I’m not looking for work.

      As an employer, I can’t ever imagine being so hung up on my own “reputation management” that I would start digging into the personal and private lives of a potential employee, nevermind a current one. But then, I’m in Canada.

      I would never work for such an employer, but unfortunately, having a family to feed might make it so that I really needed the job. At such a time, I’d lie. “I don’t have a facebook account”. And then, first chance I got, I’d make my lie true and delete it.

    • http://www.f4mmedia.co.uk des

      In the UK this could be a contravention of the Data Protection Act. For an employer to ask for such information it could be such an offence as well as possibly breaking laws such as the Employment Rights Act and a whole raft of other such laws. He was right to walk out and depending upon US law potentially should report the matter to the authorities.

    • http://none Carol Carruthers

      I would go so far as to accept a friend link so the employer could see what was going on in my facebook account but passwords no way!

    • JJ

      I wouldn’t give my password. I would however type it into their computer so they could have a nice voyeuristic time. If they so desperately want to see what I get up to on Facebook, fine.

      I don’t post anything online that I’m ashamed of – and no-one should. If they saw that I give the impression that I’m a party animal, then I’m not a fit for a job that starts at 6.30am – and how long would I last in that job anyway? On the other hand, a party animal might be great for a job in a nightclub.

      However, since this story has been all over the internet for days, I think I’d have the good sense to have my current status as “going for an interview at ABC company tomorrow. I really want to work for them, they’re a great company”.

    • UX08

      Hi there,

      I believe we should know the exact circumstances.

      One good reason to ask such a personal information could be just to test how “reliable” the person would be. If somebody, for whatever reason, gives away his or her personal account’s access details, is certainly not sombody I would hire: he could do the same with my company’s accounts!

      I assume Mr Bassett’s case was different and they really meant “give me your personal account details to dig into your personal life”, therefore, if so, he did the right thing by walking away.

    • http://sites.google.com/site/justsayingmypiece/ Charlie

      Wow! I know we live in a “brave new world”, but this is a bit over-the-top, I’m afraid. I’m retired, so “my world” was nothing like today’s, that’s for sure! In “my world”, privacy was paramount. Nobody had the right to ask personal questions…period! Oh, employers used to ask if people were part of any Communist Party, or other “subversive” groups; and they’d ask if people had any criminal record; and they sometimes wanted to have a medical record (i.e., either perform their own “physical exam” or ask for a doctor’s report on physical condition). But, to ask for someone’s Facebook password (et al.) is like asking (as others have already alluded) for a “window on the past” that just is really none of their business…I’m just sayin’…
      For more ‘ramblings’, checkitout: http://sites.google.com/site/justsayingmypiece/

    • http://sites.google.com/site/justsayingmypiece/ Charlie

      Wow! I know we live in a “brave new world”, but this is a bit over-the-top, I’m afraid. I’m retired, so “my world” was nothing like today’s, that’s for sure! In “my world”, privacy was paramount. Nobody had the right to ask personal questions…period! Oh, employers used to ask if people were part of any Communist Party, or other “subversive” groups; and they’d ask if people had any criminal record; and they sometimes wanted to have a medical record (i.e., either perform their own “physical exam” or ask for a doctor’s report on physical condition). But, to ask for someone’s Facebook password (et al.) is like asking (as others have already alluded) for a “window on the past” that just is really none of their business…I’m just sayin’…
      For more ‘ramblings’, checkitout: http://sites.google.com/site/justsayingmypiece/

    • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

      Justin should have just refused to give-out the password “to a stranger”. He then should have engaged the interviewer rather than getting-up and walking out … that action speaks volumes about Justin’s immaturity.

    • Joons

      All I have to say is that if you do not want your information to be compromised then do not join FB.
      If you want the job give them a fake account – sorry Suckerberg some folk do have more than 1 account just for this purpose and many others.
      Honestly – quit FB – totally delete your account and get a real life.

    • Joons

      And webpronews after I posted I got a really offensive screen to “encourage” me to post on FB – NO!!

    • nettiser aust

      My response would have benn.. Absolutely Sir! “…. As long as IU can have administrative rights to all data on ther company server……”

    • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

      Justin should have just refused to give-out the password “to a stranger”. He then should have engaged the interviewer rather than getting-up and walking out … that action speaks volumes about Justin’s immaturity.
      As far as the “perspective” employer asking for the password, if there’s no law prohibiting it then why not ask, the response could be, either way, would be a revealing piece of imformation.

      • Joons

        The fact the question was asked is the pivotal issue.
        Employer asks, interviewee says no, cites constitutions, points of law etc etdc – interviewee is told “thanks we’ll be in contact”
        Just like a cold day in hell that’s going to happen
        This tactic is a technique to remove anyone who may not be a drone

    • http://astroluckindia.com kunal kaushik

      He has done right?

    • http://astroluckindia.com kunal kaushik

      He has done right?

    • http://astroluckindia.com kunal kaushik

      He has done right?

    • http://astroluckindia.com kunal kaushik

      He has done right?

    • Tom

      US government does not respect privacy, the big internet players do not, why should companies do?

    • http://www.itrustgodonly.com John P

      Even though I may have nothing to hide, employers that are asking for passwords are over-stepping their bounds. If people don’t make a stand now!, there’s no telling how far this will go. We can’t let big corporations control our lives even though people need to work. It’s going to take a good majority of the country to stop this. A person that just walks out is not going to change things because there are people who will bow down and give their soul for a job. There are many people who are not active in the Social Networks that will get the job that others have walked out on.

    • http://wp-admin.info John Mauldin

      Today’s companies are insuring that employees have absolutely no allegiance to them. We have outsourced our manufacturing, asked employees to produce twice as much effort at half the price while management is getting twice the productivity already through computer automation. I don’t blame the guy. I would have told them the same except that a long time ago I decided only I would be my boss.

    • http://www.vjchris.com Chris

      Kudos to Justin for having the courage to get up and walk out! That cannot be easy in a down economy when people are desperate for work. Under no circumstances is his private life ANY business of his employer (for the vast majority of jobs). Obviously, there are always exceptions (politicians maybe, but even they shouldn’t have to provide a password). His Facebook (Twitter, Myspace, Yahoo Email, etc) are his private and personal affairs. As for the potential employer – under what law are they operating? I can’t imagine what other laws they MUST be breaking – how many people have they asked age, race or marital status? All illegal! It’s time for America to unite, so that every potential employee walks out – and reports such practices.

    • Steve Lembo

      How totally Orwellian. Employers now want to insure that their employees are not guilty of “thoughtcrime”? Next, they will probably demand to VPN your home computer to insure your browsing and hard drive contents conform to some arbitrary standard.
      This is a warped throwback to the days of the Paternal model of employers like Heinz and Ford in the early 20th C.. They would unexpectedly drop by employees homes in the evening. If the worker was drinking, children dirty or poorly clothed, or if there wasn’t a Bible in the home, the worker was fired. Horrible yes, but at least workers had the promise of a job for life and a pension. What are the new companies offering in trade for this invasion of privacy?

    • http://www.nobsseo.com SEO Sydney

      He was totally justified in walking out of the interview. Personally I would told the interviewer to jam his job.

    • http://www.work-at-home-jobsonline.com Elizabeth

      I agree with Justin. I think he did the right thing. I find it appalling that an employer would ask for your password to anything no matter what it is FB, Twitter or whatever. I would take back my resume and politely say this job is not for me and walk out.

    • Michelle

      Absolutely ridiculous! Asking someone for their password to a social website is like asking to see their underwear – it’s personal! I would have walked out of that interview as well! Who wants to work for a company that doesn’t respect their employees privacy? Not I!

    • http://www.snapvisions.net Debra Scribner

      He was so right to walk out and that’s what I would have done too. I would never dream of asking an employee for that kind of information unless his conduct in public could destroy my company and that’s not possible so why would I even ask? Oh, did he try some sort of legal action? Not sure what that would be…. but it seems like the company is discriminating against social networkers.

    • http://simon.allanach.dk Simon

      The employer equally little right to ask for a Facebook, or any other site, password as they to access a “real” thing.

      Imaging your boss saying “I’ll need a key to your house, so I can drop past at any time I want to check that you are not saying anything bad about the company.” or “From now on we’ll have all your letters, bills, etc. sent to the office so that we can see what you’re doing.”

      Asking you not to say anything derogatory, in a public area, about the company or other employees is where the like should be drawn.

    • Linda Arthurs

      Should be unlawful! Can lead to all kinds of personal info.

    • http://www.zariaandbellas.com Lance Dzintars

      It would be in the best interest of any company to treat its employees as people first and not property. If a company demonstrates effective leadership, quality and compassion towards its customers and employees, they will find better paying customers and harder workers. Constitutional rights do not end at the door way of a company office, or business.

    • http://www.PamelaTheParalegal.com Pamela
    • http://tonybertram.com Tony Bertram

      Yes he was right to walk out as would I. However, I would be filling a complaint with the labor board and seeking an attorneys advice on invasion of privacy.

    • Robert

      Next step 666 tattooed on your forehead.

    • Carol

      This story incenses me, since I did for years represent gov’t employment as an adminstrator and interviewed many many possible employees. Under no circumstances, would I ever step over such personal boundaries. The other great concern I have is not enough people understand there is a law against this -The Protection of Information and Privacy Act in both Canada and the USA!! I agree with the young gentleman, who refused and walked out, but this needs to be reported, I would believe he would have every right to make his experience public, including the name of interviewer and the company. There is no question about the values of this company, unless this is a rogue staff, which the company has yet to discover. You want to bet if this were a legitimate company, they would do something about it in short order. The caveate is to make it known. We happen to be an extremely litigious society, and unless there was some proof, this could be a very costly situation of He said She said with very little remedy. I would encourage people to have a better understanding of their rights and to always bring these situations to light.?id=2nannies

    • http://leeunderwood.org/ Lee

      You really need to take another look at the employer who is asking this question. Do you really want to work for someone like that? What else are they going to want – your Twitter account info, your bank pin number? Seriously! And yes, the employer could get into trouble, not only for asking the question but, if someone was … how shall I say … “not thinking (?)” and gave them the information, the employer could be responsible for any comments made by the employee. But again, do you really want to work for the Gestapo(?) If so, you better be sure they are not tracing your phone calls or following your girl/boyfriend. And why is there no police authorities involved in checking this? Will they wait until someone is really hurt?

    • http://gocabrera.com Adrian

      I agree with all the comments here. There is absolutely no justification or right to ask for a prospective employees login details. Why stop there. Why not also ask for credit card numbers, bank account login details etc. etc.

      I just wonder if the interviewer is ignorant of how Facebook and other social media sites work and really just wanted to be able to view Justin’s Facebook page and assumed he/she needed the user name and password to do so.

    • Hassan Malekzadeh

      Thank you very much

    • Mike Stanley

      “Do you think it matters whether your password is requested or you are simply asked to log in? Let us know your thoughts.”

      This is as shocking – that you even need to ask this.

      How has it suddenly got to the stage where there should be a debate over whether employers can read our PERSONAL EMAILS?!!

      What the f*** is going wrong with this world? We really ARE headed for a zero-privacy society with the thought police able to monitor ever single bit of our brain activity, and sod all we can do about it.

      There should be harsh laws for any employer that even asks for email/facebook (same thing) passwords, like at least two year minimum in jail if it’s ever proved.

      People should be encoraged to record their interviews on their phone or some tape device.

      It was never acceptable for employers to read any email accounts or personal letters and correspondence or listen to our telephone calls.

      Why is it suddenly becoming acceptable to people now that facebook is here? Facebook is just another version of email, another version of the ‘letter’ or ‘telephone call’.

      This is aside from the fact that anyone who ’employs’ people would have the power to abuse people’s facebook accounts. And passwords are not meant to be written down, yet that’s exactly what would happen if you gave your password over.

      I hope all this blows over, and a law comes into effect that cracks down hard on the type of scum that would request someone’s personal passwords.

      If not, this is exactly the sort of thing that could cause an uprising, and a lot of trouble. This is EXACTLY the dystopian future that we have all been made aware of, but thought to ourselves ‘oh it’ll never be that bad’.

      Don’t kid yourselves – this isn’t just the start of a slippery slope, this kind of practise is already quite far down said slippery slope, and picking up even more speed.

      It HAS to be stamped out.

    • Martha yost

      Is it possible these HR professionals are just clueless, and what they meant to request was the interviewee’s Facebook ADDRESS because they don’t even have minimal skills as to how to find someone on Facebook?
      Sounds like it to me. If this is actually happening, why is no one actually publishing the company names?
      I’m not so sure this whole thing is actually happening. How could any HR professional truly be that ignorant?

      If it IS happening, can’t you just imagine the orders coming down from some ignorant, paranoid, delusional CEO? So funny to imagine.
      Can’t wait to see someone do the Hitler film redux on this subject.

    • Carole

      He ABSOLUTELY did the right thing. Kudos to him!

    • http://www.oceansaheadglobal.com John Richards

      The minute the subject was brought up, Justin should have asked for the request to be made in writing, then gone to a solictor! As per login spy software, there should be a custodial sentence attached for such blatant acts of arrogance by any employer which should be served by the M.D / C.E.O, lets see how keen they are for your information then!?
      Global Governance has been being developed since before most of us were born, and will continue to take a greater control of our lives until we show some true spirit and say “no more”!

    • http://freestuff4u2.20m.com/ Chuck Bonner


      A person’s passwords are there own personal business. It is that simple.

      Your Friend Chuck

    • Melody

      If a perspective employer asked me for my facebook password or ANY personal password to anything, not only would I walk out on the job interview, but I’d post all over Facebook the name of the offending employer, and blast them out of the water! No way! don’t care how much I need the job. There are better ones that don’t ask for this — it’s ridiculous and a VIOLATION of privacy. ALSO, the dude who walked out on the inerview — RIGHT ON! I’m behind you 100%!!!

    • Melody

      sure, people need jobs but if anyone puts up with this behavior, then the offending employers will think they can get away with it and keep doing it. we must stick up for our rights!

    • http://jaybeacham.com jay beacham

      Yes he was right.

    • Lloyd Sexton

      From Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities under the “safety” section;

      5.You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.

      So besides the legal issues,and I am sure the employer would lose, if this prospective employer has a Facebook account , that company/individual is in violation and should be reported. Getting booted off FB would be a a major loss to many companies.

    • Zane

      whats next asking for passwords to your personal emails? This is a lawyers dream, ripe for a winning lawsuit, like asking would you be willing to have sex with me if you if it meant you could get a raise, I mean this is just oxymoron stuff one on one. I hate to say it but was this person/company just fn stupid or just dumb?

      I mean what they ask for would be consider invasion of privacy, not to mention against 1st amendment, also being the fact it’s illegal, I mean normally people that ask for your passwords are spammers and date thieves.

      Anyone that thinks they were right to even ask this is just an idiot. >.<

      But seriously though why is this making such a big headliner, I mean anyone that's anyone knows you can't ask that stuff, if you do hope you like being sued because that's what's going to probably end up at, probably end up at the supreme court like everything else these days do.

      Well can't wait for the whole books they make for jobs after this. lol If a person ask for your password, just say no! If someone does report them! lol

    • http://www.painlessstopsmoking.com Eric

      OFCOURSE he’s right!

      It’s a scandal that a company can even THINK of asking ANY password of a candidate or an employee.

      What’s next? Are they going to ask for your pincode too so they can check your balance?

      Just sue this moron so no other employers would get the same stupid idea.



      P.S. BTW, I run a business with employees and I would never even think of asking such personal info.

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