Asking for Facebook password from employees is just plain wrong

by Ashvini on March 29, 2012 · 14 comments

in General

Recently a very provocative method was being used by a few employers. They asked the candidate who was looking for a job with them either to reveal their password or to make a friend with a Human Resources employee(so that they can know about what candidate shared on Facebook) or ask them to co-surf Facebook.

Facebook password share

I find this practice strange. It is really antithetical to the employee-employer relations. This is invasion of privacy at a minimum and a sort of blackmail at the maximum. I have seen people expressing strong opinion about this practice but I doubt how many of the employees would be able to stand this request in the present economical climate.

This is a very wrong step . It can open employee’s sensitive details to folks sitting in office and it could haunt them later or open them to ridicule if anything uncomfortable though strictly within company policies is leaked by accident.

Would you like to work in these organization?

Imagine a company where all your details are known to strangers, who keep a file on you. This file can be passed to the next manager of human resource and there might be no end to how many people will know almost everything about you.

There might be an argument about “that if you have nothing to hide why can’t you show it”. Well its a slippery slope which start with questioning about educational credentials and then ending with the reason why someone ended up in divorce. No one would be comfortable revealing that. That is why this information is called as private.

Here are the questions, a company checking on personal detail needs to ask itself.

  1.  What would be the vision at such company? Would it be about respecting privacy of its employees?.
  2. Would these company be among most loved and respected companies?
  3. Would any self respecting employee want to work over at such a company?
  4. Would the company be able to drive an ethical agenda about keeping customer’s details secret when their own policies are not privacy friendly?
  5. What if the employees themselves are also customers of the company?

Build a company that is based on trust, not on suspicion

It is not to say that employee’s credentials need not be checked. Professional credentials including for example projects they did, companies they worked for and others needs to be verified but then it needs to stop there. Whether the employee drinks two glasses of beer a day or he posted his views about something controversial privately should not be concern of a company.

If we do not stop now we risk ruining the concept of freedom of speech and right of privacy to a person.

The reasons that workplaces are difficult to work for is that they are full of politics and wrong implementation of policies, under-recognition of employees. I think a better way needs to be improve the morale, due to which employees believe in their work and workplace.

Trust is the costliest commodity and it has to be gained both ways.

Let me know your opinion about sharing password with employers?

Image: pal2iyawit /

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Aswani April 10, 2012 at 9:01 am

Hi Ashvini…you have chosen a great topic for discussion. I had raised the same issue on facebook and there I did get some strong feedback on the same. For me, it is plain wrong and very idiotic. I am totally against this type of practice because I feel as if my privacy is invaded which is totally unacceptable. Hope these things get immediately banned at workplaces and employees find it easy and relaxed to carry on with their jobs..!

Aswani April 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Hi Ashvini, please do check this too –

Sarah April 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I cant believe that company’s have resorted to “Facebook Stalking” a potential employee. I wonder if they have stopped to think them selves if they would be happy with handing over their Facebook pin. It is very much invasion of privacy, which we all have a right to. Just because your a wild tiger on the weekend it does not say you are like that during the week and at work. The weekend after all is to wind down after a long week.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena April 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Hi Sarah,
I absolutely agree with you. We often have multiple ways of interacting with people in different walks of life. My personal life should not affect my work and vice versa. Asking for password to know the personal aspect is an invasion of privacy for sure.

Thanks for commenting on the post. I really appreciate :)

Jens P. Berget April 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi Ashvini,

I’ve heard about this as well. It’s a good thing that I heard about it before 1. April, if not I would have thought that it was an April fools joke :)

I would never have worked in an organization like that. I could have showed them everything on my Facebook account, but I would never give my passward to them. And it’s not that I don’t trust them, but my passwords are personal.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena April 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Hi Jens,
Its probably good if it is an April Fool joke ;). But if it is not , then I think it is really serious. I would not be able to part with my password too. :)

Adrienne April 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I heard about this last week I believe and I honestly thought they were kidding. I mean who does that and what gives them the right!

Then I realized that some employers were actually doing this. Now although I have nothing to hide to me it’s still an invasion of privacy and isn’t that why we have certain laws for that. Now if someone poses as a prospective friend and you approve them that’s one thing and that’s why it’s been noted through social media sites to be careful what you post because it could come back to bite you later on.

I just personally think that is wrong and I’m glad I don’t have to deal with any of that in the corporate sector any longer. I guess I would never be able to work again if that were the case.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena April 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Hey Adrienne,

I was amazed too sometimes about the level a very few organizations ( I believe they are a few) can go to . Somethings are too personal and they are not crime in the eyes of law. Somethings are shared just for fun and at the spur of the moment. If they can become career destroyers I think someone is taking them too seriously. Yes we need to know the limits but personal is still personal. Right , Adrienne?
Glad to know your opinions. Have a great day :)

Daria Steigman April 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm

When a friend of mine from graduate school was interviewing for a job in H.R., as part of the application process they handed him a plastic cup. (No, the job description did not involve heavy machinery.) He looked at it and declined. He told me later that he didn’t want to work in H.R. for a company whose first reaction to potential employees was to ask them to take a drug test.

It’s outrageous for potential (or current) employers to ask for Facebook passwords. You’re spot on when you say “build a company based on trust, not suspicion.”

Ashvini Kumar Saxena April 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Hey Daria,

The incident that you mentioned is indeed outrageous. I do not know where this will stop. This tendency to snoop over others is really getting huge across all walks of life.
I wish people stand up against this practice.
Thanks Daria, for the real life example.
Hope you have a great day :)

Andrew April 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

i totally agree with you, it is so wrong and should not be allowed and people should not give in and hand over there details to nobody.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena April 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for your comment. I feel that it is invasion of privacy and needs to be curbed totally.

Lori Gosselin April 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Hi Ashvini,
I just heard about this and I can’t believe they are serious. What an invasion of privacy! Read: it’s none of their business. What next, will they want to read the candidate’s journals from the past five years? The point is not whether or not you have anything to hide but whether you want to share that and everything else indiscriminately with your employer. My application to a company who asked for my password would stop with that question. Who do they think they are?

Ashvini Kumar Saxena April 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Hi Lori,

Yeah, this is atrocious. Where does this stop ? They probably know that people would not complain because of economic conditions. But I personally would get away from such employers. The agreement between employee and employer is built on mutual trust and it breaks because of this.
Great to have you here. Have a great day :)

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