Sounds farfetched, doesn’t It?  Hopefully you won’t have to face that decision.  But it’s a real possibility and has been for some people.  Manuel Vales is an AP reporter who wrote about a growing trend by employers asking prospective employees for their Facebook passwords (see link to his story at tag).  Why would an employer want your Facebook password when so much about us can already be found online?  Well, as Mr. Vales, and others reported, it’s so employers can access  your Facebook page and read what’s  posted.  

The first serious issue is that we all get it drilled into us not to share passwords — huge security and privacy risks.  But this can be a tough call — you want the job and let’s even add in that the prospective employer assures you that no one else will get or use your password — that he or she will immediately destroy it and will do so in your presence.

You think “I really want this job, they’ll destroy my password and I don’t have anything to hide —no embarrassing statements or photos, so what’s the harm?”  But what about your friends who post to your Facebook page?  And what about their friends?  So it really becomes a question about the privacy of multiple people. 

And we never know how even the most above-board activity will hit someone else.  Maybe you’re politically active and have listed those types of activities.  Do you really want to be asked questions about those types of activities during a job interview?  

So no, I don’t think employers should be asking for Facebook passwords.  But this is a very tough time for many people and adding in this kind of choice only makes a job hunt — and this kind of decision — even tougher.

Others are bothered as well because it’s not immediately clear if this kind of request is legal or not.  Two U.S. Senators have asked the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to examine the issue.  Those agencies might do so and, if they do, who knows how long it will take to get a definitive answer.

Meanwhile, job hunters need to think about how to respond in case they are asked this question.