Job Interviewers Demand Rights to Online Profiles
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 20:04
Many students are becoming increasingly aware that some employers will use Facebook as a tool for learning more about their applicants. However, privacy settings may no longer be enough to protect any personal information. Some companies and colleges are beginning to demand full access to a potential employee’s Facebook page.
According to a recent MSNBC article, the Department of Corrections in Maryland asks its job applicants to log into their accounts during an interview and click through their wall posts, photos, friends and anything else that can be hidden behind a privacy wall, while the interviewer watches. Applicants can choose whether or not they want to go through the Facebook review, but most applicants agree out of a desire to get the job.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Kiren Chauhan ’12. “This practice could turn me off from the institution if I knew they valued my social life over my work ethic. It seems like skewed priorities. I understand you need a trustworthy employee, but you should use a background check or letters of recommendation instead of this.”
The potential First Amendment violations and liability issues of demanding password access from students or job applicants are not going unnoticed. Previously, the Department of Corrections asked applicants to submit their username and password, but a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union halted this practice. There are currently two separate bills proposed in Maryland that would ban schools and potential employers from this kind of social media access.
Currently, Smith College generally does not look at the Facebook pages of its current or prospective students. “Looking at Facebook is a bad idea for the college,” said Mere Zhu ’12. “Facebook is a personal thing. And you’d have to be extreme to actually make an impression, like have a profile full of partying. But most students’ pages are the same.”
According to Karen Kristof, the senior associate director of the Office of Admissions, the Office of Admissions will look at the Facebook pages of potential employees (without asking to look past privacy settings), but has nothing to do with the pages of prospective students. “We leave Facebook entirely out of the process,” Kristof said, explaining that it is the Office of Admissions’ policy to reject any friend requests from an applying student because it sends the wrong message. “I can’t imagine us adopting [the practice of looking at students’ Facebook pages] any time in the near future. I’m not sure that what’s on Facebook would be helpful from an admissions point of view. If a college does look at Facebook, they should be very transparent about what they’re looking for and why.”