Employees say ‘NO’ to handing over social media passwords to employers

21 Aug 2012

An overwhelming majority of workers surveyed in the UK say they are not willing to give potential employers their Facebook passwords.

The survey’s results come as legislation is passed in some US states to prevent employers asking for people’s passwords.

Some 91pc of those asked “Would you give your Facebook password to a potential employers” said no, in a survey conducted by real time market research company, Usurv,  on behalf of Barker Ross.

Some employers in the US have started to ask for Facebook passwords so they can learn more about job candidates and there is some evidence that the practice might be exported to the UK. 

In the US On 1st August, 2012 it was announced that Illinois is making it illegal for employers to ask job applicants for passwords to their online profiles. The law protects both current employees and prospective hires. The legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1, does not stop employers from viewing information that isn’t restricted by privacy settings on a website. Employers are also free to set workplace policies on the use of the Internet, social networking sites and email.

Maryland currently has a similar law, and several other states are considering bans, including Washington, Delaware and New Jersey. Two U.S. senators have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review whether such password requests from employers are legal.

But this survey shows that the idea will not be welcomed in the UK.

Interestingly more men than women would give up their Facebook password, with 94.5pc of women refusing, but only 87.5pc of men saying ‘no’.

The survey also indicated that the more educated the candidate the more likely they were to reveal their password, with 92pc of A level standard people saying no, with only 79pc of people with higher degrees saying no.

Privacy in the social world

“One of the ways that employers can get information about candidates is via social media, but I am not surprised people want to keep their Facebook pages private.  You wouldn’t expect to give employer the keys to your house so he can look through you photo albums.

“If people can do a job and are well qualified, they shouldn’t be professionally assessed by employers looking at their holiday photos.  I think business focused social media such as LinkedIn allows people to present their business experience and qualifications and as recruiters that’s what we need to know.

“We all know that current and potential employers could use social media to find out more about us.  This is why we set privacy settings accordingly on our Facebook sites where we communicate with our close friends and are more careful about how we use more publicly accessible social media such as Twitter.”

Social media image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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