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Want a Job? Show Us Your Facebook

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Last December, the tech blog Gizmodo published a handy guide to sharing passwords with a significant other. Here’s a six-word summary: Only tell them your Netflix (NFLX) login.

Of course, as we’ve reported, it’s the most vulnerable -- and theoretically tech savvy -- among us that have the most trouble with this rule.

Anyways, even if you can resist giving your boy or girlfriend your Facebook password, potential employers may still get their hands on it. Earlier today, the Washington Post ran a story on the increasing number of companies asking job applicants for a look at their social media profiles.

Now, hiring managers browsing applicants Twitter and Facebook accounts is nothing new, and most people of working age have probably been subjected to more than one lecture on what not to post. While there will always be outliers, checking someone’s public profile seems more like a common sense test than a reliable way to catch them doing something unsavory.

The trouble is, many employers aren’t stopping at publicly available profiles. The Post story quotes one man who was asked for his Facebook login and password during a job interview. This information would give the hiring manager access to data that is unassailably private, like private messages or restricted parts of the applicant’s profile.

Several people have questioned the legality of these requests and Illinois and Maryland have proposed legislation that would stop public agencies from asking for access to social media. In the very least, sharing your logins is a violation of many sites terms of service.

Still, there are ways to access potential employees information without asking them for their logins. Apps like BeKnown, which are used by companies like Sears (SHLD), can access social media with user permission.

It’s important to remember that, even if applicants are technically given a choice, the threat of losing a job opportunity may force them to comply. While companies claim that they are simply doing their due diligence, there should be a limit to how far they are allowed to look into people’s personal histories.

Then again, considering the privacy issues faced by companies like Google (GOOG) and Facebook, many might just take their chances with employers.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.