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Workplace 101: A Profiles Global Business Blog

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Fired Over Facebook!


The social network was only a short time in existence before organizations began screening job applicant’s profile pages pre-hire. It is common knowledge that the majority of employers today will visit your profile page before deciding whether or not to hire you.

A Microsoft Research study conducted last year showed how 70% of recruiters said they’d rejected applicants based on the information they found online. Furthermore, in a new survey commissioned by Reppler, 91% of companies are using social networks for screening.

Now before you rush to delete your Facebook account, there is an upside to showing a certain side of your personality online. In the same survey, 68% of the time actually having a social presence contributed to a person being hired. Use common sense and just be careful what you put online. This may seem like basic and simple advice, but employers are only going to increase using the internet for references.

You might think, “My Facebook is private, I’m safe.”  You’re not! This past month, we heard many stories of how employers are now requesting Facebook passwords for job candidates to proceed in the hiring process. You have the choice to decline, but then you will be declining the chance of this new job, unfair or not.

Last Sunday, two U.S senators asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether asking for passwords violates federal law. House Republicans this week defeated an amendment introduced that would have banned employers from demanding access to Facebook accounts. This amendment was defeated by a vote of 236 to 184 however it can always return as separate legislation.

Here are some examples of ‘what-not-to-do’ on social media if you would like to keep your job!

  • A woman called in sick to work, complaining of migraines and how she needed to work in a dark room, only to stay home and update her status all day.
  • A British woman serving jury duty posted details of the case she was serving on asking her friends' opinions!
  • A 22 year old waitress blasted two customers on Facebook, that she felt stiffed her on a tip.
  • 13 Virgin Airlines crew members were fired after discussing their jobs on Facebook. They even shared technical details of the airplanes, and insulted customers.
  • A woman claimed she was depressed and was living off disability insurance for 4 years, her Canadian insurance company saw her ‘relaxing at the beach’ on her Facebook page.

Read about more stories like these here and here.

So tell us what you think! If you desperately wanted a particular job would you hand over your password? Is it too much of an invasion of privacy? Do you know people that have been fired over Facebook?

Let us know your thoughts and stories in the comment box below, or on Facebook and Twitter. #ProfilesBlog

Check out our recent post on 6 Social Media Landmines for HR Professionals to Avoid.


I had an employee who was not working out very well. My son works with us and he told me she is on facebook alot in the office. So after she left one day I went to her computer to see if she had sent an email out I had requested for her to do and lo and behold her facebook page was open. She had made some pretty poor comments on her page, and although it was in the message section, she had never come to me and said anything about communication or problems. We have a policy about facebook in our handbook and we have a policy on talking out problems in our handbook as well. She eventually quit. I took the opportuntity on her last day, after asking her the question, "Is there anything that I could have done better as an employer?" No, she responded, could I? Yes, I told her it probably is not a good idea to bad mouth your boss on facebook. She was taken aback but later apologized. I do understand that people need to vent but not in such a public manner and especially when you haven't had any kind of communication with your employee even after weeks of asking, how are you doing and what can I do to help you? Unfortunate and also tragic, she could have been a good employee. I think that as an employer I would not have a problem with going to a FB page and asessing behavior that might affect how an employee does at my company, especially since we employ caregivers who go into vulnerable adults homes. If I am already concerned about behavior it would be another piece of the puzzle to help me make a decision but not the only one.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 10:59 AM by Victoria Johnston
To be asked for my Facebook pass-word would tell me to get up and walk out. It reveals the ethics of the company or et least the hiring process. 
I have worked in autocratic and double standard companies before and I will not again. The company is telling you at the door 'expect to be scrutinized 24/7' for 25-40 hours of pay. Police, FBI, etc.. need to do this, 7-11 does not!
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:08 AM by Chris Petersen
It's something that should bother everyone and everywhere. What is private should stay private, and no power shold be able to panatrate our privacy, without our explicit permission. It's something I felt from the beginning, and that's why I entered to the social networks only when I needed something that was only in them.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:09 AM by Baruch Marmor
Having an employer ask for a password to ANY account is extremely off line. How do I know what they are going to do with my password? Who will be handling that password? What if the employer, or someone with access to the password via the employer posted comments through that profile? If they wanted access, I could simlpy friend the person requesting access. They don't need access to my personal back office where they can do what they wish with my personal 'things'. Extremely rude. If someone ever approached me with that during an interview process they would instantly have a problem on their hands.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:10 AM by Raphael
Victoria, that is unfortunate that the employee did not have the sense to a - not post in work and b- discuss negative issues about her employer. I understand how it may be useful for employers to grasp a more all- round impression of a person, but do you think that it completely summarizes a persons profesional etiquette? During my research, I came across a story of a school teacher who posted a picture of her with a glass of wine and a beer, her school fired her and she is currently trying to get her job back. What do you think?
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:18 AM by Aoife Gorey
Thanks everyone for your comments! Some great responses. I wonder if a company had two job applicants with the same experience and qualifications, would handing over a Facebook password be the deciding factor between the two. Organizations cannot assume that if one does not, that they have something to hide. The person may just hold these values of respect for privacy in high regard. Technically then, a company is not getting the 'full picture' of the employee.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 11:25 AM by Aoife Gorey
I think people forget, that social networks are a public forum. It is your "Soap Box" to voice your opinions and your views and represents you. It should be treated the same as if you were going on television, radio or giving a public presentation and not like instant messenger or text messaging. 
Asking for passwords is definitely out of line, but I don't think asking a potential candidate to friend you on Facebook is.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 12:10 PM by Noel Williams
Couldn't agree more Noel. People need to use discretion and common sense.
Posted @ Thursday, April 05, 2012 12:35 PM by Aoife Gorey
I am bei nghired to da job. I am agreeing to exchange dollars for hours. Not sell my soukl to the company store. 
Any employer that asks for any password for my facebook, linkedin, ect is going to be told NO!. 
While I am not on facebook,or any social network a lot a lot. My life is my own. If the company thinks it is buying me.  
The company that is asking for my password. That would want to hire me. Had better be putting a lot more money on the table and with some killer benes. Otherwise the answer is going to be the same. 
As for friending me. Well they can ask. But whether I say yes or no. Strictly my decision.  
If a company is that paranoid of a potential employees private life. Perhaps, that company, is not going to be the good fit that every one thought it would be in the end.  
In my opinion.
Posted @ Friday, April 06, 2012 7:13 AM by Dennis
For me, asking for FB password would be an "I don't intend to work for you" moment. I would end the interview by asking the panel did they not have a policy in their company of not sharing your network password with others? If they can't draw the contradiction between such a policy and asking a potential recruit to share their password for an external network....
Posted @ Friday, April 06, 2012 7:54 AM by Ewan Duffy
Really great article by Mashable on 'What to do when asked for your FB password'
Posted @ Monday, April 09, 2012 2:16 PM by Aoife Gorey
For me asking any password account is a bit out of the line, your privacy is gone but if you really needed that job badly then its all up to you.
Posted @ Wednesday, April 11, 2012 10:02 PM by Emily
If Facebook forces us to live our lives in a better way because we know that people are watching what we do then I think that's a good thing.
Posted @ Friday, April 13, 2012 1:37 AM by Dave
Work ethics is important as well as outside work. It is best not to talk about work outside the confine of your workplace. Social media like facebook has contributed to make negative and positive events in everyone's life one time or the other.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 08, 2013 11:29 PM by Jerry
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