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The next time you’re asked in an interview to name your greatest weakness, remember that it could be worse: Job seekers applying to Maryland’s Department of Corrections were asked for their Facebook logins and passwords.

After learning of this practice, the ACLU stepped in and put a stop to it. However, the folks in Maryland, somehow still unclear on the concept, then had job candidates log in to their Facebook accounts while the hiring manager peered over their shoulder as they perused everything behind their privacy settings.

The officials at the Maryland Department of Corrections said that they did this to make sure job candidates didn’t have any gang affiliations. The agency told the ACLU it had reviewed the social media accounts of 2,689 applicants and denied employment to seven because of items found on their pages. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water and all that.

When I used to advise people to be careful what they put into social media, I’d always temper that with telling them to at least put sensitive things behind a privacy wall (if you can keep up with Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings). But I guess even that doesn’t hold water, as you can see in this  blog that shows an image of a job application (for a clerical position) that comes right out and asks for social media logins and passwords. Scary stuff.

By Toni Bowers
March 13, 2012, 8:31 AM PDT





Could employers begin asking for Facebook passwords on applications?


 Job seekers asked to throw their privacy out the window

by Mike Wehner | Last updated 12:45PM EST on November 30, 2011

For all the good it can do, social networking also has its share of downsides. Putting personal information of any kind on the internet raises plenty of privacy concerns on its own, and handing over your username and password can be like giving away the keys to your very identity. But if you're in the process of seeking new employment, that may be exactly what you'll have to do. 

The image below is a snapshot of an application from North Carolina for a clerical position at a police department. One of the required pieces of information is a disclosure of any social networking accounts, along with the username and password to access them.


Job App


You don't have to be a security expert to realize that asking for such information is out of the ordinary. Depending on how much detail and private information you choose to post on Facebook, Google+, or MySpace, relinquishing your password would allow your would-be employer to investigate every area of your life. Aside from status updates that may be secured for only friends to view, logging in to your account provides access to private messages, chat logs, and any number of other potentially damaging tidbits. 

We've known for a while that companies often scour social networks when considering a new employee, so keeping party photos and scandalous posts out of the public eye is well advised. And while this particular application appears — for now, at least — to be an isolated case of an employer overreaching their bounds, it highlights a growing problem with social network privacy. 

Sites like Facebook have become a one-stop-shop to learn anything and everything about a person. For anyone — especially a company or potential employer — to casually request access to that information is as bold as asking for a copy of person's house keys. Would you agree to a full search of your home and worldly possessions in order to land a job? If the answer is no, then you should be just as hesitant to let someone rummage around inside your online identity. 
[Image credit: SportzTawk]



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