Though Facebook is the most popular social network amongst business users, they are still skeptic on how their employees use it. There have been several incidents where employees have been fired because their Facebook updates have been considered to be offensive/ unsuitable by their employers. This never-ending debate got re-ignited last week when Officer Robert Collins, a Maryland resident was forced to reveal his Facebook credentials during a recertification interview with the Maryland Division of Corrections (DOC).
Collin’s case is being pursued by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which subsequently sent a letter (PDF) to Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard on behalf of Collins, demanding an explanation of why it’s seeking social network account usernames and passwords for employee background checks.
A number of businesses (small and large) scan Facebook to see through public information of their employees as well as prospects. However, asking people to do away with their credentials in the name of “verification” and “background checks” doesn’t seem fair to me.
Facebook’s privacy controls have always been a keenly debated topic. Though the world’s leading social network has brought in a number of changes to simplify the privacy aspects, a lot more still needs to be done. In hindsight, if employers get hold of your Facebook credentials, does it really matter what kind of privacy settings you have?
Personal vs. Professional Life
IMO, employers have no right to forcibly peep into people’s business lives. Employees contribute effectively to an organization’s growth when they keep their personal and professional lives apart. And the same holds true for employers as well. What employees do in their personal time is none of their business as long as it’s not affecting their productivity.
This incident is also a reminder that Facebook now plays a key role in personal lives of people and can’t anymore be written off as just another social network.
Of course, employees should follow a strict ethical code on their part and refrain from using Facebook as a media to compromise their employer’s sensitive information or post updates which bring disrepute to their business’ brand. I agree that business should have a “zero tolerance” approach to any attempts from their employees to malign their image on social networks.
However, forcing employees to reveal their Facebook credentials doesn’t sound to be an ethical business practice for sure.
Do you think business should have the right to know their employees Facebook credentials in the name of “background checks” and “verifications”? Would you be willing to share your Facebook username and password with your current/ prospect employer? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.