Facebook is in the news again. But this time it’s not what the social media giant is doing, but what Facebook users are being asked to do.
Stories surfaced a few weeks ago about employers asking potential employees for their Facebook username and password.
There is no question that savvy employers are using simple searches on the internet to find out what potential employees are up to. But asking for their username and password crosses a boundary that most people are uncomfortable with, as well as bringing up questions about the legality of the practice.
Given the still shaky job market, many people feel that they have no choice but to surrender this private information in order to get a job.
All of this lands us in the murky waters of internet regulation.
Facebook released a statement warning employers against the practice of asking for Facebook passwords. Two U.S. senators are working to get this practice under control.
Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate these claims under the argument that the practice violates the Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In addition, Senator Leland Yee of California plans to sponsor a bill that would stop employers from asking potential employees for their social network passwords.
I think it’s interesting that employers are prohibited by state and federal laws from asking about your race, religion, marital status, age, or sexual preference, yet these are all things that are available in your Facebook profile. These laws have not yet caught up with social media.
Catherine Crump, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, “I think it’s going to take some years for courts to decide whether Americans in the digital age have the same privacy rights.”
I wonder if we’ll look back on this in five or ten years and think it was no big deal. We are certainly in uncharted territory as far as social media and what may be considered crossing the line.
What seems outrageous to adults now may seem like nothing to kids who have grown up with the technology that lets them share minute details of their lives. When they enter the workforce, maybe it won’t be such a big issue for them.
What do you think?