Facebook and work just don’t go together. Yet it’s so tempting to mix the two – so what to do?
Employers claim they want your social media passwords so they can see the “real you.” Potential employees claim it’s a violation of their personal privacy. Who’s right?
While I can’t say I favor one argument over the other, I do have a response for both. Employers: if you want to know the “real me” hang out with me for an hour or two and you’ll get to know me pretty quick. It’s much more efficient, less creepy and realistic. Potential employees: use the grandma rule (she’s a little more respectful than your mom who you’ve disobeyed more often than not). If you have anything on your profile that you wouldn’t want grandma, let along your future employer, to see GET RID OF IT. It’s really that simple. Too bad other people don’t see it that way…
According to Mashable, employers in Maryland can’t demand access to private materials (like FB and Twitter passwords) as a condition of employment. Well, that’s a step in the right direction. Instead of the invasion of privacy being frowned upon, it’s now illegal in the state of Maryland. As for the rest of us? Don’t give up hope.
Here are some things you can do if a company asks for your Facebook password:
- Put it eloquently. You can deny the employer access to your accounts but do so respectfully. Try one of these: Stand your ground but offer a loophole: “I am very careful with my personal, private online personal and do not feel comfortable giving out any passwords. But feel free to look at my profile as it appears to you as a company right now, if you would like.” Or, ask for some respect: “I would never participate in social media on the organization’s time and ask that the organization will respect my personal social media rights outside of work.”
- Evaluate the situation. Is it really worth it to work for a company that wants to monitor your personal life and discover who you are based on your Facebook page? Maybe not. If that’s the case, there are always other job opportunities.
- Take steps to protect your personal life. If you plan ahead and update your settings, you can easily separate your personal and professional life. For instance:
- Disable a public web search on your Facebook profile.
- Change your name on Facebook so that friends can recognize you but employers won’t.*
* Authors note: I’m not a huge fan of this one. Especially people who change their name to first name + middle name. Unless you have a pretty unique first name, I’m probably not going to wish “Jane Marie” a happy birthday because I no longer recognize you by name. If you absolutely must change your name, at least try spelling your name phonetically. That way, people will still know who you are.
What it comes down to is subjective comfort. Personally, I would have no problem allowing a future employer to take a look at my Facebook page; I don’t have much to hide. Although, I will admit, I’d find the request a little strange and probably wouldn’t disclose my password just to avoid the hassle of resetting and memorizing it – but that’s just me.
If you come across this dilemma of intermingling Facebook and work, think before you respond and know that you have personal privacy rights and an opinion you’re entitled to. For more tips try reading this article.