Overheard on CNN.com: What's the password?
Reports about employers asking job applicants for their Facebook passwords provoked strong reaction.
March 23rd, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What's the password?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Would you give up your Facebook password to get a job? Reacting to reports that some employers were requiring job applicants to do so, a lot of CNN.com commenters said no - or more accurately, @%&#@ no!

The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting to block employers from requiring users to share their social-networking passwords, arguing that it is an invasion of privacy.

ACLU: Facebook password isn't your boss' business

Facebook also weighed in about the controversial practice, telling employers not to ask for the passwords unless they possibly want to get sued.

Facebook speaks out against employers asking for passwords

Commenter IamBobBobIam says the first thing he does when considering job candidates is check out their Facebook page.

"If they have anything on there bashing a previous employer or anything of the sort, their resume immediately goes into the recycle bin."

(But asking for a password crosses the line, he says.) "In my mind it is the same as asking for their personal e-mail password."

Jason Fournier agreed that it was invasive and said job hunters should sue.

"Demanding an applicant's Facebook password is equivalent to demanding a copy of the key to their house. Civil lawsuits against such prospective employers should easily succeed, and once the first multimillion dollar penalty against an employer idiotic enough to insist the applicant provide their password is won, this whole story will happily go away.

Several commenters evoked the ghost of Johnny Paycheck, who famously sang "Take This Job and Shove It".

Dan Overholtz: If a boss ever asked me to do that, I'd tell 'em where to shove it. I need a job badly but not that bad!

Some commenters sided with companies and understood why these firms would want to know what prospective employees were doing online.

Cat Nippy: In certain jobs, such as those requiring a security clearance, it might be a valid requirement. Some jobs also have a character clause in the employment contract, and the employer might like to know in advance of hiring and training you if you have nasty things posted on your (Facebook) page.

Qroozer: I think it's fair for companies to do this. They should be able to find out everything they can about who they are hiring.


Many said there wasn't much job seekers could do about the practice in this economy.

BD70: Private companies have people over the barrel. You want the job? A drug test and your Facebook password. They should check on the employees they already have - might be surprised at what they find. Unless they already do, in which case I wouldn't want to work for that company. Your private life is not your own. It would belong to them.

lcook5: Of course it is none of your possible bosses' business. Do you want a job? Seems logical to me. You do not have to give it to them. There are lots of people in line for the job.

inc0gnit0: I'm sure it's OK for employers to ask for sexual favors. You can always refuse. There are lots of people in line for the job.

Many readers asked if anyone would want to work for an employer that demanded their Facebook login, and challena responded enthusiastically:

Yes. ... Yes. ... Yes. ... I would as long as my boss feeds my animals and waters my crops on my farm in Farmville.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.


Filed under: Facebook • Jobs • Overheard on CNN.com • Technology
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    @ bobcat2u
    Though a tad 'screwy' but you said it.
    Privacy is what we have been losing rather alarmingly here .Eversince our basic rights were compromised by 'Patriot Act' & such. Now not only the govt but everyone else seems to have assumed the right to invade it.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PEDO BEAR

    My facebook login is: Dum6as$ and my password is: Gullible1

    March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pressmstr

    Sure, give me your login and passwords and that of the management first so i can ensure I want to work for people like you ...

    March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dazzle ©

    Asking a prospective employee to give up a password to any social networking site is absolutely WRONG. In my corporate sectre work, I am responsible for hiring mid to higher level executives and I am NOT the least bit interested in their social life. My interview style is more intuitive and if someone is going to bash a former employer, they will do it right in the interview. After passing a credit check, criminal background check, references, and a drug test, that is enough. Potential hires are also aware that the first 90 days on the job is a probationary and they can be termed without cause. My advice is for employees to investigate their employers before signing on to see if they have ethics violations. If it is a publicly traded company, check the market. I would be more concerned with signing on to a private company which more so than not has cash flow issues.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat2u

    An little old man slowly shuffled into an ice cream parlor and slowly, painfully pulled him self up onto a stool. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana spli. The waitress kindly asked, Crushed nuts ? No darling, he said, arthritis.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat2u

      Hello dazzle. How's your trip going ?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ¬©

      Hey to @bobcat, good joke as always. The trip is going well and go home very early tomorrow. TY for asking and where is your hat?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat2u

      @ dazzle
      Somehow my system got changed and it's not letting me sign in with my hat. I'm going to work shortly and I should be able put my hat back on.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    This is clearly an invasion of one's privacy, and a *prospective* employer has no business in even asking for it.
    This is also going on the premise that everyone has a FB account.
    This isn't so.
    What's next? Asking for their bank account and PIN numbers?
    Just to see...what? How well they spend their money *should* they get hired?
    What a load of BS.

    Good joke, Rawr.
    It made me laugh out loud.

    Hi, Daz. Hi, JIF. This last post of yours looks strange.
    Why is that?

    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Talkic.com

    I was shocked when I first heard about employers/schools demanding to know passwords. Assuming the person keeps their privacy settings in place – it should all be considered private.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini¬©‚ĄĘ

    NOT JIF! NOT JIF!
    I did not write any of the posts above forging my name!
    NONE OF THE ABOVE BY JIF!

    March 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini¬©‚ĄĘ

    @ my trolls:
    Look, guys and girls: if you want to mark the back of your home-painted plates "Sèvres," draw better flowers and make them worthy of use by Marie Antoinette and her hubby.
    Your writing styles are transparently faux JIF.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini¬©‚ĄĘ

    @ banasy:
    Not really you, I think. We just talked about Florida.
    It might be you, though.
    Hi.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini¬©‚ĄĘ

    Not banasy.
    TMI.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    Not me @ 6:52 or 7:14.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. leeintulsa

    i had a boss once that thought since i checked my e-mail sometimes while i played minesweeper during lunch, he should have my password because it was 'his' computer..

    i deleted my e-mail accessability.. think i had aol back then..

    March 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Portland tony

    Stupid idea..Everyone who has spring break photos or compromising posts will have to just set up another page just for their boss.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dazzle ©

    @jif, I thought it was really you! The post seemed to disappear. Is this the real banasy or troll banasy?

    March 23, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini¬©‚ĄĘ

      Hi, dazzle.
      The JIF posts written by the troll(s) have been deleted.
      I agree with what you or your troll said about the FB passwords. I don't need to read potential employees' FB writings to know who the applicants are. I'm pretty hard to con.
      A little body language, a little dress code, a little coiffure, a little speech, and I don't need their passwords or nude photos.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
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