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Maryland Bans Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords

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  • Not a problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:18PM (#39639747) Journal

    Just accept that friendly request from that HR lady as a condition of employment.

    Just last night I saw an ad on craigslist where the employer wanted me to click on a emloyment site that used Facebook as a login and requirement. I figured it was a scam. But it did offer a new password that you could choose different from Facebook but you had to friend the site first ... and the employer can check to see if you have a pic drinking or do a grammar and spelling check on your casual entries etc.

    • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:25PM (#39639791) Journal

      Just last night I saw an ad on craigslist where the employer wanted me to click on a emloyment site that used Facebook as a login and requirement. I figured it was a scam. But it did offer a new password that you could choose different from Facebook but you had to friend the site first ... and the employer can check to see if you have a pic drinking or do a grammar and spelling check on your casual entries etc.

      Such trolling opportunities. Fake facebook account, with goatse et al shared to "friends only".

      • Think further. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:01AM (#39640487)

        Focus your Facebook account on your off-hours hobby of DJ'ing for gay Jewish inter-racial couples retreats.

        Then let them explain themselves if they don't hire you. They'd have to demonstrate how your off-hours activity did NOT influence their hiring process.

        After they kind of implied that your off-hours hobbies WOULD influence their hiring decision.

        It's a lose-lose for them. I don't see why any company with any intelligent HR person would even broach the subject of "social media" with applicants.

        • Re:Think further. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:38AM (#39640719) Journal

          That is the problem right there.

          HR has switched from finding the best talent for a position to mean discluding any and I mean any reason not to hire someone and then claim they couldn't find qualified applicants.

          They are scared that if they make a bad hiring decision that it will reflect poorly on them and are obsessed with liabilities. In the great recession they got a tremendous boast of having many and sometimes hundreds of applicants to filter through for each position. Social media makes the job even easier.

          Witness the case of requiring experience first? 30 years ago you left college applied for a job and it was understood that your grades and dedication proved trainable. Today, you can even be trained but it has to be percisely what the position requires in the exact same way or they are not interested.

          Doing something for X long doesn't make you good at the job. Someone with the right smarts and work ethic does. HR needs to change their ways

          • Re:Think further. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Totenglocke (1291680) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:44AM (#39641083)

            HR has switched from finding the best talent for a position to mean discluding any and I mean any reason not to hire someone and then claim they couldn't find qualified applicants.

            Dead on. I work full time and am finishing grad school and looking for a new job and that's the impression my friends and I have had of the majority of people we interact with from potential employers. They blatantly go out of their way to find reasons NOT to interview / hire people instead of finding the best candidate for the job.

            Witness the case of requiring experience first? 30 years ago you left college applied for a job and it was understood that your grades and dedication proved trainable. Today, you can even be trained but it has to be percisely what the position requires in the exact same way or they are not interested.

            Again, 100% accurate. The overwhelming majority of "entry level" positions won't even look at your resume if you don't have 3-5 years of experience doing the EXACT things listed on the job posting - nevermind that some of them may include specialized software that only someone who's previously held the position would have ever used, you MUST know how to use it for an entry level job.

            Doing something for X long doesn't make you good at the job. Someone with the right smarts and work ethic does. HR needs to change their ways

            That's why I told a friend the other day that eventually I want to be a hiring manager - because so many of them do it wrong, I want to show people how to do things right.

            • First off, the hiring process is a two way street. You are just as much interviewing the employer as they are you. If you feel at any time during the hiring process that the employer does not suit you, then STOP! Walk away, this is not the employer you are looking for.

              For an employer, hiring a new person is a high cost and high risk hassle that is to often delayed. So rather then do the process when the workload is still manageable, they only start looking when everyone is working an 80 hour week and tracki

          • by sohmc (595388)

            It begs the question of whether you can not hire or even fire a person for non-protected reasons.

            For example, could fire someone for being ugly? Could you fire someone for being attractive? They had their wisdom teeth removed? Pronounce specific "pacific"? Drink Budwiser instead of Coors? Drive a Ford instead of a Chevy?

            For every illegal reason to fire someone, there's probably 10 legal (mostly petty) reasons. I don't know of any state or locality that requires employers to show that they fired someon

        • Re:Think further. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:14AM (#39640923)

          Focus your Facebook account on your off-hours hobby of DJ'ing for gay Jewish inter-racial couples retreats.

          Then let them explain themselves if they don't hire you. They'd have to demonstrate how your off-hours activity did NOT influence their hiring process.

          After they kind of implied that your off-hours hobbies WOULD influence their hiring decision.

          It's a lose-lose for them. I don't see why any company with any intelligent HR person would even broach the subject of "social media" with applicants.

          There are third party services that'll google you and search for public social network information. These services are the ones who see your actual information and they black out anything that is illegal to be used - i.e., if you have a normal photo of yourself, your face and hands (but not, say your T-shirt) will be blacked out to prevent revealing race, age, and gender. Any other information that reveals it will also be blacked out.

          Here's an example one someone ran [gizmodo.com].

          So the company can claim ignorance by presenting this stuff.

          Of course, things that invalid this check would be asking for you password directly (since they could access it). Which s why these companies don't do that - they just seek out blogs, profiles and other stuff publicly accessible.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Focus your Facebook account on your off-hours hobby of DJ'ing for gay Jewish inter-racial couples retreats.

          They would then refer you to section (5)(8).(2)(c) of their hiring policy. "Do not hire any candidate who wastes spare time with activities such as DJ'ing"

        • by crutchy (1949900)

          Then let them explain themselves if they don't hire you. They'd have to demonstrate how your off-hours activity did NOT influence their hiring process.

          actually they don't have to explain anything. haven't you ever got one of those boilerplate... "we regret to inform you that your application for xxxx was unsucessful...".

          the tricks used by HR to dwindle the pile down are many and varied (push the pile off the desk and bin any that land upside down). just because we know them doesn't mean they have to be justified. as a job applicant you have fuck all say in anything. if you believe you have been discriminated against in the selection process, you can t

    • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:09PM (#39640151)

      "and the employer can check to see if you have a pic drinking"

      and they can look at it all they want, they are not my mother and I am well beyond legal age to drink, they dont like it then they can kiss every square inch of my ass cause I would not fit in to their "sand vagina" culture anyway.

      • by BenJCarter (902199) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:43PM (#39640397)
        Sand Vagina. That's rough.
      • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Renraku (518261) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:47AM (#39640781) Homepage

        Many states are at will employment. They don't want to have to worry about the small chance that you might have a problem with alcohol and sometimes maybe come in late for work on Monday morning due to a hangover. They might also have religious reasons for regulating your drinking. If they exclude you because you drink, they can probably find ten more people similar to you that might claim not to drink, or might simply just not drink.

        Everyone thinks that it will be epic when/if marijuana is legalized, but you bet your ass insurance companies will still employers to test for it or they won't insure them. Nothing is preventing them from simply not hiring people that like to smoke it.

        • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:59AM (#39640857)

          I grew up in, and still live in a "right to work" state, which really means the employers have absolutely no reason to even give you a reason as they boot you out the door. Monday morning hangovers have never been an issue, and I have worked for a few places that do not require a drug test at all with reasonable insurance, though you show up after lunch, glassy eyed and giggly, up your gone.

          somehow its never been a problem, maybe becuase I know better, and am not a retard who thinks just because I got a job one day, I deserve it for life

          • I've never had to have a drug test as a condition of signing a work contract... ever. Oh yah, I don't work in the USA anymore. :-P

            • by BVis (267028)

              What means this 'work contract'? They're mostly unenforceable in the USA, and therefore useless to employer and employee alike.

        • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Insightful)

          by daem0n1x (748565) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:03AM (#39641923)

          Company-mandated drug and alcohol tests are illegal my country, except for a few professions, like cop, trucker or pilot, for obvious reasons. When you talk about those things I always wonder why so many Americans feel so smug because their country has more "liberty" than mine. It seems your so boasted "liberty" is the liberty for the rich and powerful to make other people's lives miserable at their whims.

          You seem to live in a Corporate dystopia and feel like it's normal. Companies have absolutely no right to stick their nose in what you do outside business hours. It's not their business if you're gay, drink or smoke joints, have mistresses, belong to any club, organisation or religion, etc. Here in Europe we consider our private life to be sacred.

          And we really don't give a fuck if politicians do these things, unless they're hypocritical right-wing sanctimonious pricks, of course. We're more concerned that they might be corrupt, which is what really matters for their jobs, not if they love pussy or beer.

          If you do your work right, why the fuck should your employer mind what you do at home?

          • by BVis (267028) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @08:33AM (#39642635)

            Because the liability (and other) insurance companies MAKE them care. "Drug test your employees or your liability insurance premiums double". "You had an employee have the nerve to get cancer last year, your health insurance premiums just went up 50%" (This could be used as an excuse to fire anyone who smokes. You laugh, but it's happened.)

            Just another case of a country run for the corporations, by the corporations. It isn't the 1 president or 535 congresscritters or the 9 justices that make the decisions that matter in this country, it's whoever has the most money.

    • ...do a grammar and spelling check on your casual entries etc.

      You know, that might actually be relevant if the job you're being considered for includes writing things that customers get to see. If you can't be bothered to check the spelling and grammar on your Facebook page, there's a good chance that you'll forget to do it at work. And, of course, if your grammers bad at Facebook, it might just be because you don't know any better, and that would be very important when considering who to hire for such
    • by mysidia (191772)

      but you had to friend the site first

      Possible Facebook ToS violation? You don't "friend" sites, you "like" sites.

      And when you friend someone, you can add them to a "group". For example, you can have your privacy settings configured so that most of your info, wall, photos, etc, are only visible to certain groups

  • I've never heard of an employer asking this before. Do they try to save money buy using it as an alternative background check or something? Asking for someone's password seems ridiculous.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:27PM (#39639807)

      I've never heard of an employer asking this before. Do they try to save money buy using it as an alternative background check or something? Asking for someone's password seems ridiculous.

      In the words of Bill Hicks, "Where's all this shit happening?!"

      I keep reading about this but have never seen it happen myself or talked to anyone whose had it happen to them.

    • I'm thinking (hoping) more of a security/sanity check. i.e. If you're daft enough to give it to them, they'll drop you from the interview list as a high risk to social engineering attacks against them.
      • I used to think those adverts where they ask for 4 years of experience in something that only came out 2 years ago were a trick to catch liars. They aren't.

        Recruiters aren't all idiots, but if you assume they are you'll be right more often than you'll be wrong.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      It would let the firm/gov see everything you may keep private. Images, friends, interests, chat logs - depending on service e.g. IM, web 2.0. Links, fan art, body art, politics can all be hidden under some 'clean' public versions of sites.
      That clean site of a 30 yo with security clearances, a nice family, an open source project as a hobby and a musical background ...
      Might have a long lost hidden/forgotten/friend/past developer with ...... interests that could make them very very risky.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:54PM (#39640019)

      The Maryland government police were asking for facebook passwords. Then it was discovered some private employers do the same, so the Legislature stepped forward and did its job (banned the practice). Now we just need to get the other 49 Member States of the union to do the same. :-)

    • Yes. They do. It was part of why I left my last job. Social media marketing companies in particular are notorious for wanting to snoop around. They also do things like create social media profiles in your name that they swear will change when you go. And their word is as good as the paper it's printed on. Personally, I wouldn't work with any company that demanded my facebook information. While not technically illegal everywhere, it's in bad taste.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:22PM (#39639777) Journal

    I hope they were smart enough to write this law fairly broadly. Employers should not be allowed to ask for passwords to any account, social media or otherwise. If they wrote it specifically for social media accounts, then they'll just have to write it all over again the next time some other type of account becomes the target of unscrupulous employers.

  • by xQx (5744) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:29PM (#39639815)
    The surprising part about this news is that they actually had to pass a law making this practice illegal!

    You would think this is such an obvious invasion of privacy that it would be covered by existing laws.

    Still, if the great US of A is lecturing the world about "Internet Freedoms" while simultaneously perusing wikileaks for "terrorism", trying to pass laws like the SOPA, PIPA and shoving the ACTA down the throats of the rest of the world, I guess we shouldn't take anything for granted.

    Ahh, where else but America... "The land of the free".
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You would think this is such an obvious invasion of privacy that it would be covered by existing laws.

      It's not really an invasion of privacy if you hand over the information yourself.

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        It's not really an invasion of privacy if you hand over the information yourself.

        True, but I think it is a discrimination issue, since access to Facebook would like provide answer to a host of questions they are explicitly forbidden to ask (e.g., age)

        • They are NOT forbidden to ask. What is forbidden is using the answer to deny employment. Its fairly distinct. Its not simply "they asked me how old i was so they are automatically guilty of something." If it can be proven you were denied the job for protected reasons, THEN it is an issue.
          • They are not FORBIDDEN to ask but they will usually AVOID those questions because once they have that information they have to demonstrate that they did NOT refuse employment based upon it (should they not hire you and should you sue them).

            The legal system being what it is ... it is just safer for them to not ask and therefore there is no way they could be using that information in their hiring decision.

            Remember, HR is not there for YOU.
            HR is there to protect the company from lawsuits that you can bring.

            • Yes, exactly. Asking the question merely opens up a possible legal attack vector, nothing more.
      • by Fluffeh (1273756)

        It's not really an invasion of privacy if you hand over the information yourself.

        No, it simply makes it an abuse of power. You NEED this job eh? Right, well as we have a few people to pick from, how about we pay you half the going rate, but hire you today? That's another abuse of power. No different really. People in a tight place will do just about anything to get out and sadly there are many people quite happy to use that to their own advantage.

      • by stretch0611 (603238) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:31PM (#39640299) Journal

        It's not really an invasion of privacy if you hand over the information yourself.

        Is it still not a privacy invasion if you haven't been able to pay the rent/mortgage for a few months, your water and electricity are about to be shut off and somebody says "give me your password if you want this job..."

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        oh it's still a privacy invasion and a breach of contract with another entity(fb).

        just like it's invasion of privacy and forbidden of them to ask access to your house in order to decide if they want to employ you or not. they're an employer and they're bound by some rules, it would be different if it was someone refusing to be friends with you if you didn't invite them over to your house..

    • Exactly.

      Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure
      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      Why would any employer would think it's legal, ethical, or justifiable to ask to perform a search of your private accounts (papers and effects), any more than searching your home, vehicle, bank account, or diary without a warrant? It's absurd. Shouldn't need any additional law.

      Furthermore, disclosing your password is a violation of the FB ToS, so they're asking you to breach your contract with FB (or other provider).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Because private entities aren't required to abide by the Constitution since the Constitution sets the framework for government.

        • Because private entities aren't required to abide by the Constitution since the Constitution sets the framework for government.

          You should look up unlawful detention? Retailers used to not let you leave the store if they catch you shoplifting until the police arrive. SOmeone used the Constitution claiming unlawful imprisonment and won!

          If you steal anything the retailer can't stop you! All they can do is talk to you to distract you while the police arive.

          If businesses are under the power of the constitution than this would be also.

        • Civil rights guarantees apply to everyone, not just the US Govt. It's illegal for any person to deprive you of your civil rights, and has been repeatedly found to apply to individuals as well as businesses and government.

          • Only true for a very narrow definition of "civil rights" - basically, what's covered by the 14th Amendment. Most certainly, neither 1st nor 2nd nor 4th control how private entities may restrict their employees.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Constitutional law only applies to the U.S. Government (and by extension of SCOTUS case law... State governments). It has no application to private entities. That is why neither Congress not the Legislature may limit your free speech, but this website, your employer, or a private store/business most certainly can.

        There are probably laws that forbid employers from asking for PINs to your credit card or bank account. Perhaps you could prosecute them for asking for your "PIN" on facebook, but I have no idea

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          There are probably laws that forbid employers from asking for PINs to your credit card or bank account. Perhaps you could prosecute them for asking for your "PIN" on facebook, but I have no idea. It might not get far.

          is it an american thing that something must be specifically said in legislature in order for people to understand it to be illegal? is it like patenting already used things but attach "smartphone" at the back? are all specific driving impairing substances banned for driving seperately instead of there being provision for not driving while not fit to drive?

      • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:05PM (#39640109)

        Because they aren't the government and hence the 4th amendment is irrelevant.

        Also note that the 4th amendment doesn't say that the government can't ask to look at your stuff - just that they can't force you to let them (without probable cause/etc). So even if it was relevant it wouldn't stop a potential employer from asking.

        • Civil rights apply to everyone. Just try violating someone's civil rights and you'll find out just how much.

          This wasn't a "request" by any standard. This was give us the info or else. RTFA.

          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            I can't violate someone's 4th amendment rights, since I'm not an agent of the government.

            I can't seize their stuff. Or go through their personal belongings without permission. Or seize them. Those things are illegal but not due to the 4th amendment.

            It was "or else we won't give you the job". Which I agree should be illegal, but the 4th amendment doesn't make it so (well in the exact case in the article it might because it was a government job so it was in fact the government doing the searching, but that's

          • by Bigby (659157)

            Or else what? We won't hire you? Do you have a right to that job? What about the employer's freedom? An no, not all employers are evil.

      • For the millionth time, after everyone realized it was a ToS violation they simply ASKED THE APPLICANT TO LOG IN THEMSELVES.
    • by crossmr (957846)

      I would suggest that if you knew anything about the USA you wouldn't really find this surprising at all.

    • by JoelKatz (46478)

      You know what's an invasion of privacy? Passing a law that tells one person that they can't ask another person a question. That's an invasion of privacy in my book. We need these laws because some people are too dumb to say "no", and smart people are afraid that if they do say "no", they won't be able to compete with the dumb people willing to say "yes". It's idiocy all around.

  • "AN EMPLOYER MAY REQUIRE AN EMPLOYEE TO DISCLOSE ANY
    26 USER NAME, PASSWORD, OR OTHER MEANS FOR ACCESSING NONPERSONAL
    27 ACCOUNTS OR SERVICES THAT PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE EMPLOYER’S INTERNAL
    28 COMPUTER OR INFORMATION SYSTEMS."

    the 'terry childs' portion...

    can you enter in financially binding transactions with your account? like a stock broker? well-- good luck proving it wasn't you if your password for work accounts MUST be known...

    • if you don't get it? equate it to requiring a ink stamp with your legally binding signature.....

  • by Cazekiel (1417893) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:39PM (#39639917)

    ...there's no piss-test for Farmville addiction.

  • There's no law requiring anyone to have a Facebook account (yet, anyway). And anyone who has their real name as their Facebook account is naive at best.
    • And anyone who has their real name as their Facebook account is naive at best.

      What about people who think using pseudonyms on Facebook -- or on Slashdot, for that matter -- actually protects their privacy?

  • But I just can't help but think that any company who's core values are so completely fucked up that they request this, is someone who I just simply wouldn't want to work for in the first place?
    • by Formalin (1945560)

      Nice in theory, but when hard times come, people end up prostituting their souls, if nothing else.

      It gets more problematic when there are less employers that don't do this, as well.

  • by nobodyman (90587) * on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:54AM (#39640833) Homepage

    ...when even Facebook is saying "hey guys, this seems like you're crossing a line with people's privacy".

    • by knorthern knight (513660) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:48AM (#39641099)

      > ...when even Facebook is saying "hey guys, this
      > seems like you're crossing a line with people's privacy".

      Mark Z doesn't give 2 hoots about your privacy. He only cares about Facebook's bottom line. Facebook's product is personal information about you, e.g. your "Likes", sexual orientation, political leaning, and other demographic data. If employer-access to your FB account becomes widespread, then...

      1) people will either leave FB in droves, or refuse to join in the first place; bad for FB

      2) many people that stay will "sanitize" all their FB info, to avoid getting fired/refused when employers look in. This will pollute FB's database. This is just as bad, if not worse than people quitting.

      Follow the money. This isn't about your privacy, it's about FB's bottom line.

  • Can someone with some US law background explain Why there is a bill needed? to prevent HR or employers to ask for passwords?
    I mean: in the rest of the world it is either illegal to ask, or illegal to give the password away. Illegal in italics as it is not strictly speaking against the law (in the) later case but against the TOS definitely. In the former case it is illegal ... for what reason should a potential future employer have access to your private "property"?

    • by BVis (267028)

      No law background required. Any layman can tell you that unless specifically prohibited by law, an employer can discriminate against you for anything they see fit. You have no right to privacy if you want to get hired. If standing on principle is worth not getting the job (and losing your unemployment coverage) for you, then go on with your bad self. Me, I have bills to pay. If my employer came to me today and said "Give me your facebook password or get fired on the spot", I'd have no choice but to giv

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