Does your Facebook page carry more weight than your resume? Inquiring employers want to know…

When you apply for a job, does your Facebook page carry more weight than your resume? As the Facebook’s global reach continues to expand, and the opportunity to gain access to a person’s private information increases at a velocity faster than Spielberg’s light speed, employers are now requesting private log-in credentials for access to your page hosted by the social media giant – even when applying for a job.

This event lit up a social scathing of employers and platforms. In an attempt to distance itself from the situation, last week Facebook issued a press release revolving around the recent concerns potential employees have when interviewing with a job.

“As a user you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” said Erin Egan, Chef Privacy Officer, Policy at Facebook.

Sharing a Facebook password, or asking for someone else’s password, violates Facebook’s user agreement. But that violation pales in comparison to the legal responsibility of employers under federal labor laws.

Is your online life and real world reality (either business or personal) separate?

When employers begin to pry into the online life of potential, or event actual, employees, they open themselves up for claims of discrimination, harassment, and privacy violations – not to mention assuming unanticipated liability if they were to even acquire such log-in information. Employers also lack the proper policies and tools to handle that level of sensitive information. And what happens if that information becomes exposed or is requested by a third party, such as a government agency? Lawyers, I am sure, are already salivating at the thought of the NDAs, employment agreements, and confidentiality sections that will need to be re-written.

Can Big Brother really do that?

Two US senators are asking the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether employers even have the right to acquire this information. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) are working with legislation that would make it illegal to ask for your personal information. This personal information can take the form of passwords and usernames or just requesting to view the private photos and statuses of its employees.

As our real life and social life blend together more each day, the line between what is private and what is public has become more blurred than a Martin Sheen bender. In the last several years, Facebook has created comprehensive privacy settings – sometimes to the dismay of its user base. However, even this limit of visibility to viewers still doesn’t stop potential employers from requesting the information – a practice that is not considered against the law, yet.

Does NO really mean NO?

What happens if you deny an employer access? What protections are afforded a potential employee if an employer does “friend” you on Facebook? And how would an employee know if their social media content was considered in their termination? All good questions that are left to debate. As with all high-growth industries, we will have to see just how long it takes the regulatory environment to catch-up with the ever-evolving technologies.