Asking for social media usernames and passwords of employees might land you in prison

By Daniel O'Leary posted 12-11-2011 20:10


(I’m not a lawyer and this is just my personal opinion. Please don't let the big words and nice suit fool you)

Have you ever checked out an applicant's Facebook profile? Seen their embarrassing pictures from Halloween? Tweets about a sensive topic?

What really piqued my interest about this topic was when a friend on Reddit shared this picture with the message, “I knew this would happen eventually.”

To many of us, this seems like a common courtesy, and part of a thorough background check. Why should your employer NOT have access to your long forgotten MySpace account? What you might not know is that if you have ever read the terms of service for websites likes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you would see that it is a violation of the terms of service of all of those websites to provide your username and password to any other person or entity. So as an employer, you are asking employees or candidates to breach a contract in order to comply with your rules and regulation.

For example, the Facebook terms of service state, “You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.” By sharing the information yourself or making someone provide you access, you are inducing a breach of contract, which the FBI is quite interested in.

According to a statement in November 2011 by Richard Downing, the Deputy Computer Crime Chief of the US DoJ, “The law must allow "prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider." As an employer or candidate, is this worth breaking the law over? What if when browsing the sites you find out that a candidate is a member of a protected class? Can you imagine the liability?

In my opinion, I’d never work for a company that made me hand over that type of personal information. It is no less intrusive than being asked to ransack my home, look through old yearbooks, and browse my family scrapbook. While there is nothing at all questionable or offensive, it is private. If you have ever even thought about asking someone for this information, ask yourself, would you be willing to hand over YOUR information? 

#legal #HR #law #SocialBusiness #reddit #socialmedia #DOJ #ElectronicRecordsManagement #prison #Jobs #facebook