Industries have invested untold billions of dollars to ensure privacy protection, and yet employer can say, “never mind your privacy, give me your Facebook password”.
No one is shocked today about the growth and acceptance of social media. Even a novice has a basic understanding of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. Social media vehicles are everywhere, especially in the work place. If you’re bored right now do a walk-about in your office and you’ll see for yourself. There’s a good chance that one of your direct reports or co-workers are “liking” something on Facebook or Tweeting. Social media websites are now a part of the workplace DNA. How much productivity is lost because of social media? That’s a topic for another blog, as well as how do you monetize your social media efforts. This blog is about privacy, and the rights of an employer and employee.
Did you know that an employer has the right to ask for your Facebook password? Go ahead, pick up your jaw…I’ll wait. Now that you’ve recovered you might be saying to yourself, “Maybe I shouldn’t have posted those photos”. Moving on, did you know that if you go for an interview the perspective employer has every right to ask you for your Facebook password? If you say no, that’s personal information, they have every right not to hire you. Believe it or not there is no legislation in Canada which prevents an employer from requesting this information. Truth be told, I just came across this information and my reaction was probably not unlike yours. Industries have invested untold billions of dollars to ensure privacy protection, and yet employer can say, “never mind your privacy, give me your password”. Needless to say the folks at Facebook are less than amused with the employer’s right to request this information. Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer recently issued the following statement, “We don’t think employers should be asking perspective employees to provide their password because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do”. Well, that will make them stop. He goes on, “we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password”. To hell with the Canadian Charter of Rights, we wouldn’t want to violate Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Who knows, maybe one day Facebook will rule the world, and Mark Zuckerberg’s face might be on every bill, but until that happens Canadian law trumps Facebook’s wish.
To be clear there are legal considerations an employer must be aware of if they were to subscribe to this practice. Asking for this information may result in human rights complaints and the employer must safeguard any information derived from some else’s Facebook page. That being said, if an employer crosses all “t’s” and dots their “i’s” - it could happen, to you.
From my perspective it’s an unseemly practice, it’s cooperate voyeurism. It’s only a matter of time before the laws are changed. Social media is changing how we do business, and how we interact. Government laws have not kept pace. Like everything else, eventually they’ll get around to it.
I think I’m going to go for a walk-about in the office. I’m not going to ask anyone for their Facebook password. I’m going to open someone else’s mail, surely that can’t be illegal?
Until next time