Relax – You’ll Never, Ever be Asked For a Facebook Password

It’s one of the hottest and long-standing recent HR stories.

In March, the Associated Press reported on several job seekers being asked their Facebook passwords. Then, it spread like wildfire. New Jersey, among others, introduced a bill to ban the practice.

Relax. You’ll never be asked for your Facebook password when you apply for a job. Here’s why:

It’s against the Facebook Terms of Service — Twice

Sharing your own or requesting someone else’s Facebook login information is against the Facebook Terms of Service. First, it’s a violation of the ToS to share your login information with anyone, as it says in the section on “Registration and Account Security”:

8. You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.

And it’s also against the rules to ask for anyone’s login information, as it says in the section on “Safety”:

5. You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.

Put simply: neither you nor the person interviewing you can let this happen while remaining on Facebook’s good side.

Almost literally everyone thinks it’s deplorable

… especially the people with power to do something about it. Facebook has strongly come out against it as have several state legislatures (Illinois and Maryland in addition to New Jersey) and the U.S. Department of Justice. You can bet if the practice grows, it will be treated as much more than a nuisance. But it runs a lot deeper than a few powerful hoodies and suits.

The Facebook login debacle has been compared to asking an applicant for the keys to their house. That’s true in another way: everybody has one. You’d never ask someone to take a look around their bedroom because you’d feel violated if someone asked you the same question.

Anyone on Facebook (okay, anyone) who isn’t deeply misguided about the recruiting process will feel the same way. And it shows: public sentiment is hugely on the side of “don’t you even dare ask.”

There’s actually not that much to learn from them

I am a textbook Gen-Y/Millennial social media maestro, and I can tell you that my Facebook account is useless to the kind of recruiter who’d ask me for my login. Useless.

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Know why? Because they’re looking for dirt: profanity, unprofessionalism, and red solo cups. There’s nothing there. And not just because that’s not who I am.

It’s because I grew up with the thing, and I (like everyone else) know that every naughty Facebook post will eventually be seen by the wrong person. Those of us with brains won’t put anything incriminating on Facebook. For those without, there are better ways to find out — like, say, a conversation.

It’s simply not happening that often

And you know why? Because it’s bad practice. Would you refuse to hire someone if they swear occasionally? Drink a glass of wine now and then? So, where do you draw the line between that and un-hireable? A three-drink-per-Facebook limit? You can’t, really.

There’s a reason nearly every story about employers asking for Facebook passwords involves the statistician from New York. That’s because it hasn’t happened many other times. It’s because a few hopelessly out of touch recruiters thought they were being innovative and jumped on the Facebook train.

Using public social media posts to learn more about your candidates is great. You’ll see their interests and see their social media savvy. These are great, relevant pieces of information. But go into the realm of private and protected to glean those extra bits of data, and you’ll lose. Quickly. They lost candidates, lost their organization’s reputation, and learned very little.

So — relax! Your Facebook password is safe.

This article originally appeared on The Resumator Blog.