Every day millions of people from around the world share and connect with their friends and family on Facebook. Over the years, Facebook has become a large part of many people’s lives. Once a place for just college students, it has grown to approximately 750 million active users from around the world. With the latest profile redesign, called “timeline,” it has been transformed into a digital scrapbook of our entire lives. Our friends can see what we do, where we have been, and now even what articles we read and what music we listen to.
It has been brought to our attention that some companies are asking for access to job applicants’ Facebook accounts, including Virginia State Police. This is different than an employer wanting to be your friend on Facebook. With a friendship, there are privacy controls to limit what individuals can and cannot see. By gaining access to a user’s Facebook account, any filters are effectively removed, allowing the employer to see every status update, photo, comment and even the user’s private messages.
We are against employers doing this, and we stand with organizations such as the ACLU who have said this is an invasion of privacy. Employers have no need to see everything that we do outside of the office; what matters is our work and performance. Employers should keep this in mind when hiring new employees. We wouldn’t bring our family scrapbooks or our friends to an interview with us, so why should we surrender every detail of who we are with our employer? Our personal lives do not necessarily reflect our work ethic.
Granting employers access to our Facebook accounts may also lead to involuntary prejudice. They will be able to see information employers normally are not allowed to ask about such as your religious views, political views and sexual orientation. Though they may not necessarily mean to judge a candidate from this information, it is sometimes unavoidable. What happens when you deny them your Facebook login? You have the right to not hand over this information, but it raises the question of whether you are trying to hide something.
It is clear that employers gaining access to your Facebook account is not right and should not be allowed. How different is it from allowing them to go through your emails? We believe that employers should stick with resumes and interviews for the best judgment of an individual. There needs to remain a separation between your personal and work life, as they do not necessarily reflect each other.