Banning Employers from Asking for Social Media Passwords is Stupid
October 14, 2014
Why, oh why do state governments feel the need to waste valuable time and tax payer money enacting laws that prevent employers from requiring access to the social media accounts of current or prospective employees?
HRMagazine is reporting that New Hampshire became the 18th state this past August to adopt such legislation and that similar bills have been introduced in at least 28 states.
Here’s my take- this is a waste of time because this is not a widespread trend among employers. In fact, I’ve yet to come across an employer who demands this of their candidates and employees. Whatever they are going to find isn’t worth the negative candidate experience or media attention this practice creates.
Where we have seen this, we’ve found that candidates stop applying for jobs and the media absolutely eviscerates the employer. Check out what happened in Bozeman, Montana several years ago. As soon as their practices of asking for social media passwords came to light, it took them about 2.5 seconds to rethink their policy. That was in 2009. The only other instance I’ve seen is from the White House. That’s right. If you want to work for President Obama, beware that you’ll be asked to share your deepest and darkest secrets on Facebook. And guess what? I’d think they were crazy if they didn’t ask.
Evidently, the federal government gets it. According to Eric Meyer of Dilworth Paxson LLP and “The Employer Handbook” blog (which is incredibly entertaining and educational), “There have already been two attempts to pass a federal social media workplace privacy. Both have stalled out.”
Our most recent marketplace trends survey shows that most employers aren’t even conducting social media background checks as part of their employment background screening process, let alone asking for candidates’ passwords (see below).
Does your organization conduct online media searches for candidates as part of your hiring process?
I want to be clear that I think the practice of asking for social media passwords is a joke. Employers shouldn’t do it. It’s a horrible invasion of privacy. But there are a lot of things employers shouldn’t (and aren’t doing) that the states don’t bother wasting time legislating. I know it sounds great for a politician trying to create a name for themselves, but let’s add this to the list.