Should Businesses Be Allowed To Know Their Employees Facebook Credentials?

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.

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  1. Sarah Greep Reply

    Absolutely not! No way should employers have the right to our FB username and password, nor would i be willing to give it! Nothing to hide, just none of their business.

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  3. Yinka Olaito Reply

    I do think only those companies which havefailed in their responsibility should follow this part.This responsibility is simple: having a policy, guide(jointly agreed on by managemenet and staff) for staff behaviours on social media should be concerened about that. Also they must have earned their corporate confidence.
    If this had not been done the comapny should monitor.But in most cases,such exercise yields no meaningful result.

  4. Gabriele Maidecchi Reply

    I am completely against the fact of demanding one’s Facebook credentials, but I also think each of us should play smart.
    Of course people working for me has got a Facebook account, and they have got “wild” nights out like each of us at some point of their lives. But they are smart enough to use Groups to share pictures like that, and anyway the content isn’t too bad to begin with.
    My point is, play smart. If you work for some social service company and you’re photographed while getting your ass drunk, well, yeah, it’s not really the company’s fault for “monitoring” your Facebook account.
    We should all begin to act with the assumption everything we do, at all times, will be public for everyone to see, because Facebook is moving exactly in that direction, and we all helped this transition, willing or not.

  5. Ryan Meray Reply

    Abso-freaking-lutely not. I don’t care if you’re working for the NSA, this is no different than allowing them access to your email, your diary, or your home. Unless you think people are the property of their employers, I can’t see any reasonable scenario where letting them sift through your private life is any of their damn business.

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  7. Courtney Hunt Reply

    The City of Bozeman, Montana tried to implement a similar policy in the summer of 2009. The policy last less than 24 hours because of the national backlash they received. Here’s a link to one of the stories about it, on Mashable. com:

    Last fall I wrote a white paper on the subject of “social screening,” which relates to this post. It’s called, “Social Screening: Employees – and Organizations – Beware.” It can be accessed via I wrote a follow-up blog post entitled, “Social Screening: The Expanded Discussion,” which can be accessed via

    Finding the right approach to social media policies is critically important, and many organizations are guilty of overreaching. A couple of weeks ago, for example, the NLRB settled its “Facebook case” with an employer (AMR), and one of key terms of the settlement was that the employer agreed to revise its “overbroad” policy. I wrote about this case both when the complaint was filed and after it was settled. Here are links to each piece: and

    This week I’ll be publishing a post on social media policies that addresses the issue in a more holistic way. This is an important issue that requires a thoughtful, balanced approach.

    Courtney Hunt – Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

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  9. Courtney Hunt Reply

    This story has generated a mini media firestorm in the past week. I have been sharing my thoughts on various articles and blog posts, and I finally decided to write my own reflection as well. Here’s a link to it: One underreported “fact” I learned in doing a little additional research is that a representative from Maryland’s DPSCS says they do not have a policy that requires job candidates to provide login information, so the case may not be as clear-cut as it seems. It will be interesting to see how this case finally gets resolved…

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

  10. Thabo Hermanus Reply

    What is more interesting for me is why a company should want access to an employee’s facebook account? That is a complete shift away from what the company is there for and has nothing to do with their purpose. If a company has so little trust of their employees that they feel they want to go into their facebook accounts, they need to review their recruitment processes as well as how they deal with people. The purpose of a business is not to snoop around people’s facebook accounts! Trust is earned and this type of behavior would not foster the spirit of trust in your organization.

  11. Overlapping Business and Personal Social Presence; Must They Inseparable? | SiliconANGLE Reply

    […] Division of Corrections, it is more blatant. During Robert Collins, a resident of the state, was asked to disclose his Facebook password during a re-certification interview. For obvious reasons, this case has sparked debates and […]

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