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On giving your Facebook password in an interview

Royksopp – Miss It So Much

Yeah, I know it’s been a long while since I last posted.  There’s some catching up to do, and once I get a good dose of motivation I’d like to link this blog with my WordPress and Faceboook profiles in some limited way.  But right now I have something to get off my chest and this gives me an opportunity to test Blogilo.

Earlier today, one of the recruitment agents who has worked hard to ensure that I remain employed, linked to this article and asked the following on LinkedIn: 

What are your views? Most people seem to google potential employees already. Something to be aware of. With the way privacy settings keep changing, you would be wise to check your Facebook settings on a regular basis. If you read the fine print you will find some apps have allowances to access your own facebook inbox which I promptly deleted! It also begs the question as to whether an online persona is truly indicative of the actual person.

This is something that I’m fairly passionate about, so I responded thusly:

Outside of double checking your privacy settings and generally just making sure that your name ‘Googles well’ so that you improve your chances of getting to the interview, all I can say is that yeah; the Facebook Terms of Service are clear. Section 4, Clause 8 and I quote:

“You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”

The real questions then are: Are you comfortable, as a job applicant, working for a company that clearly has no issues with attempting to force (or forcing you), under duress, to breach your contract with Facebook? What does that say about how they’ll conduct themselves during your employ? Their ethical and moral compass? And is that the kind of employer you want to lend your loyalty to? (realistically it’s probably just some HR type on a power trip, not a complete reflection of the employer, but I digress)

And anyway, as someone who works in IT and is entrusted with passwords to seriously important kit, what does it say about you if you hand over your own passwords so readily?

I haven’t been asked yet in an interview to either login to facebook or cough up my details, but if I were prompted to do so, I’d decline and explain why. If they insist, I’d simply stand up, thank them for their time and leave. From there it’s either a thankful and explanatory email to the potential line manager + head of HR if you really wanted the job, or a complaint to the Department of Labour, or you write that job off your list of potentials and move on.

This is also one reason why I’m a fan of linkedin – it allows you to draw a solid line between your professional and private lives. If an interviewer wants to know how I conduct myself professionally (i.e. what actually matters to the employment relationship) then they’re more than welcome to look at my linkedin profile.

I won’t be forced to show them my private information though, not because I necessarily have something to hide, but because it’s none of their business. That and I don’t want to work for a company that has the deluded belief that how I conduct myself in my private life has a direct correlation to how I conduct myself professionally. It’s just like mandatory drug testing: Generally speaking, provided the employee’s productivity and professional conduct isn’t impacted, what they do on their own time is their business and their business alone.

By the way, this was discussed on Reddit today. There’s plenty of comments with American specific legalese, but mostly some interesting points and stories:

I then went on to look further at the ToS and added this:

Oh, and I’ll just add the following extra terms from the Facebook Terms of Service:

Section 3, Clause 5 is a nice one:

“You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.”

Section 3, Clause 6 is arguable, depending on how insistent the interviewer is:

“You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.”

And Section 3, Clause 12 just ties it up in a neat bow:

“You will not facilitate or encourage any violations of this Statement.”

You don’t need to be a lawyer on this one: Interviewers asking you to login to Facebook are in the wrong.

So there you have it. If you’re asked to give your Facebook login during an interview, you don’t have to, as you’re being asked to breach your agreement with Facebook under duress.

Thoughts so far about Blogilo… easy to setup, but the visual editor doesn’t like breaking out of blockquotes.  I think this post will require a bit of manual intervention from the wordpress interface…

Categories: Geeking Out opinion