Right to Review Applicants’ Facebook Pages?

The Baltimore Sun reports that when he reapplied for his former job 29-year old correctional officer Robert Collins was forced to divulge his Facebook password and “watch as his personal page and its postings were perused by an investigator.”  Collins considered this to invade his privacy and complained to the ACLU, which led to the Maryland Division of Corrections “backing off, saying it will suspend such demands for 45 days during a review of the matter.”

What will they learn in 45 days they don’t know now?  Maybe the DOC thinks that’s long enough for this issue to fall off the radar.

Should employers have the right to look at the Facebook posts, pages, and pictures of prospective employees?

9 thoughts on “Right to Review Applicants’ Facebook Pages?”

  1. I understand that a company would secretly check social network sites that the applicant has before making a decision on hiring. I also understand that, in a different situation, the company has a right to go through the employee's social network sites if accessed at work. However, blatantly asking for the password to sift through the applicant's private life is not right, nor is it professional. It will make it seem safer to not have a facebook for the sake of keeping your private life, private.

  2. The right to look at facebook is the employer's; however, the right to obtain the candidate's password is not. Everything you can see from a third party on facebook is "public" information – but there are messages and posts that are private. Things the individual has set to be hidden from public view. In my view, this should not be lawfully considered.

  3. I agree with Elizabeth's point – the right to view someone's facebook is anyone's right who has access to a computer. Though there is such a thing as privacy settings on the social network. What information you wish to reveal should be just that – the information you wish to provide. If you want to get to know someone – then it's a simple matter of a friend request.

    It's only human for an employer to sort of stalk their potential employee and do this kind of "background" check – but private material is kept private, I hope. I think it's wrong for employers to sort of hack into accounts and find out how to view someone's facebook page even if their settings are on private – that's wrong and I would say it would go against an individual's right – and it would be unlawful search, no?

    A kind of funny story to add onto this – I come from a traditional Indian family. I am a first generation American in this country, and so the family my parents left behind when they moved here still live very traditional lives. My cousin recently found someone she would potentially want to marry – it was an arrange marriage set up (yes they still happen) and both the parents sort of agreed to the marriage after very little time with the family. When my dad found out, he sort of stalked the person line and tried to dig up as much information as he could. (I personally didn't know my dad was that tactful and computer savvy to know how to 'cyber-stalk' legally. I want to joke and say it runs in the family). My dad found some information that was not in line with what the family had been claiming and the potential for marriage was gone.

    My dad doesn't hire people (thank god for them) but I can see why employers would want to get to know someone they'd be letting into their company. My only concern is that sometimes people do lead very double lives — in that they have a strong social life but when it comes down to work time, they can be as professional and as hard working as any other great candidate.

    1. Great story about your father finding the dirt on the groom-to-be. An aside about arranged marriages. About six years ago my wife and I hosted dinner for ten or so members of Chankaar, for which I am faculty sponsor. All were first-generation, born in the U.S. and very westernized. The conversation moved to arranged marriages and my wife and I were surprised to learn that all of them approved of their parents being heavily involved in sifting through prospective mates and vetting their character and career prospects. None would go so far as to give their parents total control over finding a spouse, but they were happy to let their parents do the leg work and exercise veto power over their choices. It was a good lesson about the power of tradition and cultural identity.

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