Hiring managers of some public agencies in the US are asking job applicants to hand over their Facebook passwords, it has emerged. Questions are being raised about the legality of such social network profile scouring, which is the focus of proposed legislation in Maryland and Illinois to ban public agencies from seeking access to a job candidate's social networks.
According to The Los Angeles Times, some legal experts believe that this in-depth social network profiling of a potential employee is completely 'an invasion of privacy and violation of anti-discrimination law.' "It's not just a violation of the applicant's privacy. "I'd argue that it poses a very serious concern" for every friend attached to that person," the paper quoted an employment attorney, Amy Semmel, as saying.
The average profile of a person can be overflowing with information that could be used to construct a fairly detailed sketch of a job applicant, which can differ greatly from the image that applicant would like to project to a potential employer. Lawyers also believe that 'it's a potential human resources hazard for employers.'
According to the report, applicant profiles likely contain details that are off-limits in the hiring process: ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, religion and pre-existing medical conditions. The detailed social network profiling of a potential job candidate has therefore raised an ethical question- whether the move is fair or legal.
According to the report, the practice of even asking for your password violates the terms of service for Facebook. Entering a social networking site in violation of the terms of service is regarded by the Department of Justice as a federal crime. During recent congressional testimony, though, the agency said such violations would not be prosecuted.