The news that some employers are asking job applicants to turn over their Facebook passwords as part of the “reference” check process is producing the predictable hair-on-fire reaction that the new InstaMobHysteria otherwise known as social media fueled non-news events (see Kony2012, Pink Slime Beef) has been doing the past few months. The Big Brother Is In Your Facebook meme is this week’s celebrated cause to post on your Facebook walls and hand out likes and pluses and retweets to mark your solidarity with whatever zeitgeist there is to be solid with.
First off, what specific employers are asking for Facebook passwords? A cursory search with the Google reveals this “trend” was kicked off by the Maryland Department of Corrections asking a prospective prison guard; not Goldman Sachs, McDonalds or some other reviled institution. I can’t find any other examples, but I am assured by Google News that this a pernicious trend that various legislatures are quickly swinging into action to ban.
Having a family member who went through the security clearance process years ago, I’ve had some first hand experience (a visit from the Men in Black) with the level of detail a government security agency will go through to insure that the next hire doesn’t turn out to be a mole. Basically it comes down to this: if you want to go through the locked doors of the National Security Agency or be the next Jason Bourne, you’re going to get a proctological exam of everything from your medical records to your drunken tweets.
The current NetGenMillenials have been warned for a while that their public utterances are open books to prospective employers. I’d add the advice that if you apply for a gig that entails handing over your passwords … either declare “F$%k That Noise” in and turn over the desk before stomping off in righteous indignation, or, pre-seed your timeline with pious accounts of your good deeds and shine them on.