While background checks are a necessary part of most job interviews, many say a growing number of companies may be taking their quest to learn more about applicants too far.
According to a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, many companies are now requesting the Facebook and Twitter usernames and passwords of job applicants.
In their efforts to decide which applicants they want to hire, some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person's social networking profiles; instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around.
In several states, questions have been raised about the legality of the practice.
Meanwhile, companies that don't outright ask for passwords have taken other steps — such as asking applicants to friend human resource managers or to log in to a company computer during an interview.
Once employed, some workers have been required to sign non-disparagement agreements that ban them from talking negatively about an employer on social media, according to the AJC.
The article contends that public agencies are more likely to ask for the information than private companies.
When asked what sort of material would jeopardize job prospects, a source reportedly said, "inappropriate pictures or relationships with people who are underage, illegal behavior."
More companies are also using third-party applications to search Facebook profiles.
One app called BeKnown can sometimes access personal profiles, short of wall messages, if a job seeker allows it.
Sears is one example of a company using apps.
An applicant has the option of logging into the Sears job site through Facebook by allowing a third-party application to draw information from the profile, such as friend lists.
Sears Holdings spokeswoman Kim Freely reportedly said using a Facebook profile to apply allows Sears to be updated on the applicant's work history.
The company assumes "that people keep their social profiles updated to the minute, which allows us to consider them for other jobs in the future or for ones that they may not realize are available currently," she told the AJC.
Giving out Facebook login information does violate the social network's terms of service, but experts say those terms have no real legal weight.
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Have you ever had an employer try and “friend” you on Facebook or Twitter or demand your password?
If so, have you actually complied with their request?
What do you think about employers demanding this information?
Is it a necessary evil or are employers just being unnecessarily nosey and quite possibly teetering on trampling all over job applicants’ First Amendment rights?
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