In today's digital age, social media has revolutionized many aspects of the online world. While sites like Facebook and Twitter originated as avenues for people to connect and share pictures, internet stories and videos with their friends, they have since become powerful tools for businesses attempting to reach a broader customer base and attract new talent. Indeed, recruiting through social media sites has quickly become a commonly accepted practice in the hiring world.
Beyond posting job descriptions, employers have also begun scanning prospective employees' Facebook profiles for indications about their personality, interests, social habits and background. Keen to this game, many candidates have started limiting their public information with stricter privacy settings. However, Reuters reports that some organizations have taken a controversial step to gain unfettered access to Facebook profiles – asking applicants for their usernames and passwords.
"It's akin to requiring someone's house keys," said George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor Orin Kerr, reports IndyStar.com. Kerr went on to describe it as "an egregious privacy violation."
Despite complaints surrounding the issue, Reuters states that employers may not be violating any laws, considering that they're allowed to ask a wide range of questions (so long as they're not discriminatory) during the interview process. As a result, asking for social media usernames and passwords could become commonplace for employers in the near future.