Monday, March 26, 2012

A "Trust-busting" Hiring Practice: When Employers Ask for Facebook Passwords

There have been a number of articles about the practice of employers asking job seekers for their Facebook login information (Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords) in order to check into their backgrounds. This is, in my opinion, a reprehensible practice.

In addition to privacy issues (which have been discussed widely in the press), I see this as an egregious violation of trust. When employers ask for Facebook login information they are, in effect, saying to prospective employers, "We are requesting you to break your promise." 

Let me explain.

When I signed up to use Facebook, I agreed to their Terms of Service (TOS) which includes, under Section 4 (Registration and Account Security): "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 issue here is safety and privacy. I need to trust that Facebook is doing all it can to protect me. In return, they are trusting me to be a responsible member of their community. In other words, we made promises to each other to behave in a trustworthy manner.

Thus, when a prospective employer says to someone, "Give us your password,"  they are also saying, "We have no respect  for any prior agreement you have made with anyone else. Do what we ask or you won't have a job." Quite simply, this is an attempt to bully someone into breaking a promise.

Even worse, the employer is announcing to the entire world, "We are an untrustworthy organization: our word is NOT our bond."

Facebook's TOS includes, under Section 3 (Safety), the following: "You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else." A prospective employer that signs up for Facebook with the intent of asking (prospective) employees for their passwords is doing so with the willful intent to violate the TOS. Again, that hardly inspires trust.  Who would want to do business with such an organization? Would you feel comfortable being one of their customers?

Finally, let's consider the impact of this "trust-busting" hiring practice on employee satisfaction.  As the graphic below demonstrates, nine out of ten employees (91%) define true success as being trusted to get a job done, surpassing fulfillment from money or a title. My guess, an employer who goes about destroying trust by asking employees for their passwords probably has a lot of disgruntled employees!
Click on slide to enlarge

'Nuff said!

Click here for more articles on building trust.

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