Should Job Applicants Be Required To Provide Social Media Passwords?

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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It's no secret that employers often look over the public profiles of potential new hires, but now some have gone as far as to require applicants to turn over their social media passwords. In Kansas, two lawmakers believe that crosses a line and shouldn't be allowed.

Reps. Gail Finney and Oletha Faust-Goudeau have introduced a bill in Topeka that would make it illegal for an employer to require applicants to provide their social media passwords.

"It's against federal law for an employer to ask someone things like what their sexual orientation is," Finney said, "and I think it's no different with my online home."

Social media is a part of most people's daily lives now. At any college campus, you'll find students in between classes, keeping up with Facebook and Twitter. Michael Campbell has been a retail manager before. He has often used a prospective employee's public Facebook profile to help in his decision to hire or fire someone.

"It's public," Campbell explained. "If you post it on Facebook or Twitter, it's public. Now, there are password protections. There are things you can put in place where I want to share something with you personally and I don't want anyone else to access it. That should be private."

But how about your actual logon password? The bill introduced by Finney and Faust-Goudeau would not allow prospective employees to require you to hand over your passwords.

As for law enforcement, the Wichita Police Department does actively look at applicant's Facebook profiles. Lt. Doug Nolte says applicants are required to either provide their passwords or sit with a supervisor and log in for perusal.

Finney says part of why she introduced the bill was for exactly this reason.

"Some employers, particularly law enforcement, may require this in order to be hired or rehired," Finney said. "It should not be mandatory."

Meanwhile, Campbell - the college student - believes there should be some exceptions.

"I would say when it comes to things like national security or financial security of an institution, especially when you're talking about millions of dollars," Campbell said. "If the person isn't willing to consent to that, maybe that's not someone I want to hire."

The social media bill will be discussed in the Commerce Committee first. If it passes there, it will be forwarded to the full House floor for debate.

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