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Maryland Bans Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords 211

Freddybear writes with news that yesterday Maryland passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature that would forbid employers from requiring job applicants or employees to provide access to social media accounts. The bill now awaits only the signature of governor Martin O'Malley. "The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and has shined a spotlight on the practice of employers demanding personal social media passwords from potential hires, [said Melissa Goemann of the ACLU]." Similar legislation is being developed in California, Illinois and Michigan, according to the Washington Post.
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Maryland Bans Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords

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  • 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".
  • by SaroDarksbane ( 1784314 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:44PM (#39639957)

    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 DarwinSurvivor ( 1752106 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:51PM (#39640003)
    In British Columbia, Canada there is actually a list of things an employer is NOT allowed to ask you (age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, etc), and almost all of them can be answered by viewing your facebook account.
  • by ZeroSumHappiness ( 1710320 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @10:56PM (#39640035)

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:What if (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @11:14PM (#39640193) Homepage Journal

    I've said it before and apparently I'll say it again. This is how the interview would go:

    HR Person: "Please provide your login credentials for Facebook." Interviewee: "I don't use Facebook." HR Person: "Right. 'Refused to provide Facebook login credentials.'"

    Result: Circular file.

    Not for me. Here's how it would go:

    HR Person: "Please provide your login credentials for Facebook."
    Me: Have a nice day (as I stand to leave)
    HR Person: Where are you going?
    Me: To interview with better companies.

  • 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..."

  • Think further. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> 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: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.

  • 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.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:52AM (#39641487) Journal

    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 tracking the backlog has switched from a project manager to an archaeologist. With all this, they then have the task of defining the role, explaining this to a recruiter, putting it out and deal with the deluge of applicants many of who have no hope whatsoever. You wouldn't believe what responds at times to a job ad. But the employer has to shift through it all in the hope of finding the one non-lying, non-insane, non-slacker, non-enemy making freak out there. A freak after all is someone who is not normal so a normal person in the hiring process is a freak. Trust me on this.

    So, having just lost a month worth of productive work in total, there you are with all your hopes and dreams, interviewee #5347. STAND OUT!

    An employer wants ONE thing and one thing only. One: make more money or to get laid with the new hire. An employer wants two things and two things only, 1: more money, 2: sex 3: no loss in productivity. Three things, an employer wants three things only.

    To this end, the employer has a number of choices:

    • Not hire anyone, after all what does an 80 hour week hurt anyway and productivity would go up if people didn't have to waste time interviewing candidates.
    • Hire someone else then you.
    • Hire you.
    • Start the hiring process again with a new batch of candidates.

    If you see malice in the above, that says a lot about you and a good employer would spot this and not hire you. If you never hired anyone or had to work with a new co-worker, you might not fully grasp just how much productivity is lost with not just the hire process but getting a new person up to speed. And (small) companies typically only hire once the workload has gotten to high already, so more work getting you up to speed will only make things worse. An employer wants to make sure that things afterwards will at least get better.

    So how do you convince an Employer that HE/SHE/IT/THEY will BENEFIT from hiring you after the HUGE cost and hassle of hiring YOU? Simple, identify those costs and hassles and show how they can be minimized by you, or how they are not so bad after all.

    Skills matter less then the capacity to acquire new ones quickly. Any new job will require new skills. Who cares you knew how to work with the systems of your old company, how quickly will you learn the systems at your new job? Emphasize NOT your experience with a system but how quickly you learned it. On your own. Self-study the new companies system shows they don't have to waste productivity teaching you.

    Nobody likes a trouble-maker. Employers don't want strive among their employees, it costs productivity and they are hiring you to boost it. Don't boast about how buddy buddy you were with a small number of your ex-co-workers. Show you can get along with everyone and can just shrug off difficult co-workers without actually implying that you personally thought person X was difficult. Yes, that is bland. Bland is good, it has low risk.

    Show how working for THEM benefits YOU. An employee who benefits is unlikely to leave. Make this benefit seem longer then the next paycheck.


    Simple, an employer wants to know who you really are. Both of you are pretending during the interview. Simple dating advice is not to look at how the person interacts with you but with others. For women especially, want to avoid an abusive relationship? See how he deals with waiters and others in a subserviant role. That is how he will treat you once the honeymoon is

  • Re:What if (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:07AM (#39641533)

    That's a narrow minded view. The company could be awesome and I'm not about to potentially ruin a career aspect with them because some lowly HR douche had an abortion of an idea. Hell if I walked out every time an interviewer asked me a question I disagree with I probably would never get past an interview stage. The problem is every so often someone comes in and makes a temporary dick move that may likely get reverted later and does not necessarily reflect the views of the entire company.

    The company I have now made such a dick move hiring (or rather not hiring) university grads this year. They stuffed up the list of applicants and we accidentally interviewed the rejects. When they were all rejected word spread that we were screwing people around. Doesn't mean that we have any intention of fouling it up again next time.

    Instead why not make your intentions known bluntly without screwing up potential opportunity? Just say "No, what I do in my private life between friends stays in my private life." It shows your position, strong character, and still leaves you the option to flip off the HR person with a big f-you if they insist on seeing it anyway.

  • 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?

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