Why Employers Asking For Facebook Logins Will End In Fire

Senior Contributor
03.21.12 4 Comments

It’s an increasing trend in job interviews: at some point, if your Facebook profile is private, the hiring manager asks you for your password, or for you to log-in so they can poke around, or even allow a professional application to take a poke through.

It’s a huge invasion of privacy, and, inevitably, hilariously, it’s going to blow up in their faces.

This needs some background. In my previous life, I was a “human resources professional,” which is a nice way of saying I was a temp who ran background checks, screened applicants, prepared offer letters, and so on. I know how your job hunt sausage is made. And I can tell you right now this is happening for one simple reason: these employers are too cheap to pay for a professional background check.

Realistically speaking, there’s nothing in a Facebook profile that should really make a difference in hiring. Employers are, or at least should be, looking for previous criminal convictions and serious debt problems: if you’ve ever heard your credit score can make you less likely to land a job, it’s true, depending on the company. Those are the indicators of employee problems and they don’t come up on Facebook as a rule. A hint is found in “non-disparagement agreements” new employees are forced to sign, which boil down to “Don’t bitch about your job on Facebook where we can see it.” They want applicants who genuinely want to work whatever awful job they’re offering.

So why is it going to implode in a puff of schadenfreude? Simple. Some bigoted moron is inevitably going to log into an applicant’s Facebook, see that he or she is gay, and tell them “You can’t work here because gays are going to burn in hell! IN HELL I SAY!”

And then we not only get a lawsuit, it means that company (or government agency) will have to shell out millions of dollars to go back and review every single applicant they did not hire to determine whether or not they didn’t get the job because of something that has no bearing on their job performance.

This isn’t a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when.” And, when it happens, every single company that does this is going to see this, realize that they’re one disgruntled applicant away from going through the same process, and decide that maybe those background checks aren’t so expensive comparatively speaking.

Of course, it may simply be outlawed: Maryland and Illinois are already passing laws against it, and it looks like other states are going to follow suit. But, either way, expect some pretty hilarious news articles in the near future.

(Image via CleveredFool on Flickr)

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