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More employers asking job seekers for Facebook passwords & to friend HR

You used to think that if you set your privacy controls on high, come up with a different variation of your real name, or de-tag yourself from pics, you have thoroughly insulated yourself from a potential employer finding you on Facebook and scoping out your profile before deciding to hire you.

Not so fast.

The UK Daily mail reported last week that companies, some government agencies and colleges are asking applicants to fork over their Facebook and email logins during the interview stage.

Other stories site private companies doing the same and even going as far as require employeees  “friend” the company’s human resources manager.

The problem is, in this era of high unemployment,  desperate job-seekers say they would just comply because they have to feed their families.

Even though these instances of employers requiring passwords are still rare, experts are saying this may be the new world order because of high unemployment,  people are willing to accept less in exchange for a steady paycheck.

“It used to be that people would have to scrub their Facebook profiles,” Newsday quotes David Jacobs, consumer privacy fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research group. “Now it seems like even if you take those steps, you really have to make sure that everything you’ve ever done is employer friendly,” he said, adding that the scrutiny has reached a level of invasiveness that’s “excessive and unreasonable.”

But many Americans actually see nothing wrong with employer control over what their employees say about them in social media.

A new Rasmussen poll said that a third of those surveyed (33%) are fine with workers getting fired for inappropriate Facebook posts.

In some cases, a brand’s reputation can severely be tarnished if employees bad talk them online.

There is more and more case law bubbling up around Facebook.  Recently, there have been highly publicized cases of

  • people getting fired for calling his boss “a complete tool”;
  • a teacher getting axed for posting on a gay rights page that  “homosexuality is a perverted spirit”; and
  • a doctor disciplined for commenting on a trauma patient, saying  he “operated on her brain…risky and bleak.”

The US National Labor Relations Board issued an order last fall in the first firing on Facebook state to reach that level.

In  Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation provides social service for Buffalo, New York residents, terminated five employees for their comments on Facebook after a co-worker had raised concerns about the job performance of other HUB employees.

Apparently concerned that the co-worker would bring her concerns to management, one of the five employees posted the following on her Facebook page:

[Co-worker] feels that we don’t help our clients enough at HUB I about had it!
My fellow coworkers how do u feel?

Thereafter, the others followed with comments suggesting how difficult their jobs actually were. The co-worker mentioned in the posts complained to management about the Facebook posts. The manager then met with each of the employees that posted on Facebook and terminated them.

Look at that, you never know when you’d get set up!

In these tough times, employers may be winning the battle of employee and potential-employee control.  The economy is not on the side of the average worker who values privacy.

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Jeneba “JJ Ghatt”,is editor at, an online hub where she helps social media butterfly who empowers digital entrepreneurs and professionals to create great things online at her online learning platform Digital Publishing Academy.  She is an editor of tech blog and founded the annual 200 Black Women to Follow On Twitter List. Read her bio, then get all of her online & digital biz startup advice and tools in one spot here!

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