back to article The Facebook job test: Now interviewers want your logins

When I wrote this blog about how a recent research study correlated social network behavior with employee success, I speculated that we’d soon see employers trying to circumvent Facebook’s privacy policies in order to get a good look at your Facebook pages. Well, it turns out that some employers aren’t happy with just seeing the …

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Employers can demand access?

I don't think so.

Under human rights legislation I have the right to a private life and my facebook is kept private for real friends.

Sorry but if companies are getting this petty I won't "friend" co-workers on facebook. More trouble than its worth.

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Re: Employers can demand access?

Especially if the co-worker could be tapped to "friend" a "target" employee.

But, that damned facebook cloaking issue means that for now, it's hard to stop someone from coming and going, doing random drive-by snapshots.

So, I guess the workaround is to re-limit all old posts, but that can be very damned tedious.

Maybe facebook needs to get off its ass and allow people to have a shadowed account where friends see one aspect of the subscriber, and others see the "cleaner" side. This means that all friends are not just on a "friend" list, but that "friend" has to supply an expirable password to see more than others see. This would act as a 2nd level of protection. It can be as simple as the two friends going to the chat box, then sending each other a mutual code and clicking on an action button. It should require them to get on the phone or start the process in another off-channel route so they can feel reasonably comfortable they are not being spoofed.

No, fb, you cannot patent this: THIS IS PRIOR ART NOW AS OF MY WRITING IT. Or it is obvious extension of what should be possible by security-minded subscribers wanting more protection.

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Re: Employers can demand access?

"Sorry but if companies are getting this petty I won't "friend" co-workers on facebook. More trouble than its worth."

The only "friends" I have on FB are people who I'm actually _friends_ with -- work "friends" don't count -- who I actually know personally and spend time with personally on a regular basis. That's one thing that really keeps the signal-to-noise ratio down.

I haven't "friended" my wife, though; that just sounds stupid. She finally quit begging me after a while. I told her, "jeezus, why do I need to 'friend' you? We're frickin' MARRIED, f'cripesake!"

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glenn@docproc.com

Firstly, is there any evidence of this actually happening, or is it some BS scare story?

If it _is_ happening, why not just have a dummy "clean" FB profile with very little in it, which you are happy to share, and keep your real profile to yourself?

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Maybe. It's just another Register story...

...glommed from a story off another online source. Possibly 'The Atlantic' in this case. There are a couple of examples cited there.

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Anonymous Coward

Original source appears to be the AP.

.nt

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Big Brother

Re: glenn@docproc.com

I read a similar article a few days ago. This HAS happened, but it's at places like security/prisons in the US. The US has few protections for (prospective) employees, and working for places like that is even worse. Also, if you're applying for a job like that, you are likely unskilled or semi-skilled, and so won't have a lot of options.

Apparently of the 500 or so people screened by one prison, several had photos on Facebook showing gang tattoos or gang signs, and were ditched from the employment process.

Sorry, really can't remember where I saw the article.

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Anonymous Coward

Rights

One persons rights ends, where another persons rights begins.

Rights apply to people, not corporations (no matter what the dumb ass supreme dunsel court says). But even if rights applies to corporations, then their individual rights of free speech does not trump your own.

Their attempts to even look at a persons faceboo page is used as a way to manipulate applicants and employees into saying what the employer likes, or they are retaliated against, and that goes too far.

Now, asking for the actual login, goes WAY too far; next they will be asking for the password to your bank account. You need to make a stand and tell them no. If you don't, then you are only contributing to the problem.

On the other hand, turn about is fair play. You can "leak" their passwords if you can find the access to it, and you can go to the facebook and get lots of information on lots of employees officers, and owners. and do whatever you like with it.

Turn about is fair play. They impact your job and ability to make money, so you impact their business, and ability to make money.

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Re: Rights

Last night I was thinking the VERY same words.

However, right now, despite the rage in my words I posted today on this topic, an alternate though I have is this:

Suppose the interviewer really IS ONLY looking to filter out DIMWITS. The moment you supply a "password" (verified or not), you're out of the running.

But, really, they should stick to asking "Why are manhole covers round?" That question got me hired since I paused, reflected, and supplied the correct answer in about 3 seconds. My interviewer smiled immediately and she said, "You won't believe how many people could not give me the correct answer. When can you start."

Kinda shakes your faith in the average human "bean".... lol!

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Anonymous Coward

Who'd want to employ anyone so dim as to think Farce book was a good idea

Like it sez ^^^^^^

You got a Farcebook login? 'Bye.

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Devil

Re: Who'd want to employ anyone so dim as to think Farce book was a good idea

As someone who doesn't have a Facebook account, I wonder what the interviewer would say...

1) are you serious? Everyone has a Facebook account, you must be lying.

(so then I guess if you are going to accuse me of being a liar, I must not be a suitable candidate.)

2) so you are refusing to give me your Facebook password then? Ok we'll be in touch.

(works for me)

3) you must be joking. How else do you keep in touch w family and friends?

(Hmmm I don't know, I use the phone or email? And of course actual face time at the local brew pub?)

4) you don't have a FB account and you're in high tech? Then you must not be very technical and hip to the new technology.

(No, I am very technical and hip to the new technology. That's why I don't have one.)

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Facepalm

So what happens when I tell them (honestly) that I don't have a Facebook account? Do they assume I'm lying and terminate the interview?

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In that case you don't end up working for micro-managing dicks. A lucky escape.

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No Faceache account?

...you've got the job!

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Big Brother

FTFAGOS

Facebook isn't the worse of it; it seems some employers are demanding passwords to email accounts as well.

When the HR drone expects you to hand over passwords, and won't give you the job if you refuse, what is an applicant meant to do? It's all well and good having high moral principles when comfortably employed but a different matter when desperate for a job.

Some of those asking for passwords seem to be involved in law enforcement and the like and are just the sort of people who will flag you up as suspicious if you won't hand passwords over. Not having a Facebook or Twitter account seems to be suspicious enough in some people's eyes.

On the plus side, telling them to go fuck themselves isn't likely to make things much worse and HR drones always suggest being honest in interviews :-)

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Re: FTFAGOS

"Could you put that request in writing to me please as I would first like to consult my solicitor about it"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FTFAGOS

Simply ask if asking for passwords is tantamount to breach of the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act 1998 RIPA for short) if you're in the UK, substitute for any intercept law in your country. If it's a law enforcement type, this statement alone will make him/her reconsider their options because it makes it appear you know the law and are at least polite enough to gently question the demand instead of going postal in a sandals-and-beard wearing fashion.

If it's a HR droid they will quickly try to talk over the fact that they were heading down an alley which could be construed as the above, but don't count on it. I have heard of a consultancy where someone resigning was not allowed out of the room until he signed some sort of paper. The droid in question was taken in for questioning when the leaver calmly called the police station around the corner and reported unlawful imprisonment - that he used his corporate mobile for that was in my opinion a nice touch :).

Personally, if they insist I'd get it in writing and then have a brief chat with the head honcho. If he/she/it takes one look at my CV they will know they just stepped in a huge bear trap - and it's unlikely I'd ever work for them if they didn't come up with a sensible explanation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FTFAGOS

"Some of those asking for passwords seem to be involved in law enforcement and the like and are just the sort of people who will flag you up as suspicious if you won't hand passwords over."

I've worked for the police: they'd never ask for passwords or friend via facebook coz they'd be far too scared the story would make it's way to the press.

The scariest thing to a Chief Constable is criticism in the Daily Mail. Even though, to any normal sentient being, it would undoubtedly be the highest form of flattery (they've never really gotten over their 1930s crush for the facists).

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TRT
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Megaphone

Facebook is evil.

I don't and won't have a Facebook or Twitter account. Would a prospective employer actually believe that?

And surely you didn't fall for the "How do I program the DVD player to record Antiques Roadshow tomorrow?" trick? Had nobody told you that your relatives feign IT & tech ignorance in order to elicit a personal visit from their beloved kin? They'll deliberately wind you up to the point that you screech that it's OK, you'll drive the 180 miles to deepest, darkest Mid-Kentshirewold and set it up for them, to which they'll reply "Oh thank you, deary. And you'll stop for dinner too? You can bring that new girlfriend* of yours along." You'll know you've been had if they use the phrase "It'll be lovely to see you."

*This tactic is specifically used against male-kin as women are simply not so cruel as to ignore their relative like that. Also, they'll even call your boyfriend your girlfriend on the phone if you're of that persuasion, hastily rectified to your (120ms pause)"friend"(um) once you are physically there.

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FAIL

How long until there is a facebook group for outing companies that do this sort of thing in a comedy twist on the companies disparaging themselves, and of course demonstrating their employees are muppets who ignore basic security, so their systems will likely be easy pickings.

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Anonymous Coward

toldya!

that the arms race is up and that people should run two profiles, at least, one for the hr and one private? And then, the business will generate demand for "vendors" try to match those two, and the other side witll generate demand for "Hide you real profile for dummies", and "Make your official FB profile realistic" webinars, etc.

btw, what's "facebook"? I must speak to one of my friends, perhaps they'll know.

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Facepalm

Re: toldya!

"I must speak to one of my friends, perhaps they'll know."

That confused me totally, then I realised that you meant actual friends rather than "friends".

We need a word around here to use as a substitute for Zuckabitch and his cohorts' misuse of the word "friend". Any ideas?

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@TeeCe - Re: toldya!

How about FIRL? A bit obvious, maybe, but it's simple.

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Re: toldya!

What is facebook?

facebook is the hugest, most insidious, most pervasive intelligence coup ever devised and implemented. Hell, Zuckerberg is probably the first unwitting inductee to every global intelligence agencies' Hall of Fame, hahhaha.

Hell, ever sophisticated cracker out there too probably mastu*&#tes and salivates to the exploitable parts of social sites such as fb.

Or, how about this: "facebook allows you to connect with your friends, and occasionally, randomly, and reliably, your frenemies to you.

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Alien

You know, I hate to ask...

...but are "friends" electric? Are they?

Praying with the aliens.

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Coat

Re: @TeeCe - toldya!

Italian rugby league?

It's obscure, I'll give you that.........

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Happy

Re: @TeeCe - toldya!

Not as obscure as "Fiber-optic Inter-Repeater Link", I fancy.

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WTF?

Rights and wrongs..

To be honest it's bullshit that these people want access to a persons Facebook account to help vet the candidate.

I've read about people losing their jobs through Facebook Status updates. As someone in their 40's, I am not connected to anyone I currently work with in my current position. I never Facebook from the office systems or on my personal devices whilst at work. Why? I prefer to keep my social and work life firewalled off.

If a prospective employer were to ask me for my Facebook login, my answer would be "Sorry, I don't use Facebook at all" but then again at my age, I could probably get away with that bullshit reply

If I were younger (20's-30's) most prospective employers and their agencies would "assume" I have a Facebook profile and if I said I didn't, would they believe me? Probably not.

My response if ever pushed into a corner over a job I "really want or need" depending on my Facebook profile, I'd ask the person requesting my login details to send me a "Friend request"

I would allow them to "be my FB Friend" for an agreed period, then I'd remove them

How would the recruiter like it if I asked "Can I have a look into your handbag / wallet as this will be a key factor on whether I accept the position or not" They'd probably tell me to take a hike..

.

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On the positive side...

At least these kind of 'companies' still require your consent in giving them your social media credentials. Because the other scenario could be that they demand access from the social network site itself and thus access your data without you knowing.

I know, I know..."Impossible" because of "privacy concerns" and who knows what... Keep in mind though that money can do strange things to people. That is also assuming that we got all the details on what is going on.

We have the option to tell these bozo's to take a hike and hopefully that will be the end of it.

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Big Brother

So open a second account...

... that is totally innocent with pictures of puppies, kittens and a few tame friends. Perhaps we could all help each other out on this and befirend one another with our sanitised fb accounts?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So open a second account...

Do you really think that they'll stop at asking for your facebook login if you get the job?

Once you're employed and under their thumb your life will never be your own.

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Anonymous Coward

It could be worse

They could ask you to reveal your Register username to trawl through and see your postings (where's the bloody 'anon post' button? Oh there it is)

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Thumb Up

Re: It could be worse

Not too worried about El Reg - I've had nearly three times as many likes as dislikes so I don't look like a total pratt. But if they asked for my DigitalSpy name they'd find out what I was really like. Not that I'm ashamed of anything I've posted there but when it comes to work I prefer to filter my opinions a little bit :)

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Like many of you, I work in IT

So I would assume that asking for my FB/email/whatevr login details was a test of my anti-social-engineering skills, to which I was supposed to reply "no, I don't give out passwords."

If I were interviewing, answering anything other than the above would get you removed from the list of potential candidates sharpish.

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Re: Like many of you, I work in IT

But, the PROBLEM is is that this sets up a dangerous precedent.

Once the floodgates open, there's going to be too much momentum to reverse the damage. Once a company with no legitimate need to ask it even as a "test question" succeeds, others will attempt it. Eventually, it'll be so common that people will have had it inculcated in them and plenty will not be savvy enough to have an "alternate" account.

Besides, officially (well, last time I read the Ts&Cs), facebook prohibits an individual from registering multiple accounts. Not that people don't, and not that fb cannot handily do proper counts to not inflate redundant, hijack-recoveree, or business/personal accounts.....

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WTF?

Well, I'm sorry to say...

...you were unsuccessful in getting the job.

Why? What!? Because I don't have a Facebook account?

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Alert

Scare story?

Now far be it for me to call the writer on this, but it seems inconceivable that this kind of a 'blind' story can be taken seriously.

Which billionaire I.T mogul was spotted in a trendy West London club hooting charlie off a high-class call girl's boobs... see it's easy.

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Anonymous Coward

Wouldn't work here

We block access to facebook.

But on a more serious note:

Let them know my Facebook page, or twitter tag so they can see that what the outside sees; that I'm a clean-living family type with ordinary interests - maybe.

Add them to my friend list so they can see how I am around my nearest and dearest - don't think so.

Let them peer over my shoulder when I login so they can see the personal messages between me and friends - Never.

At the very least the last is an invasion of the privacy of my friend's messages, and I could not sanction that without their say-so.

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Facepalm

Google and Facebook both have 2Step authentication - so they can ask for the username and password as much as they want - even if I did give it to them - they still couldn't log in.....

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Mushroom

Facebook Terms

3. Safety (5) You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.

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Stop

Surprised no one has seen the irony ...

Doesn't Facebook ask for your email account passwords (hotmail, gmail, yahoo) when you sign up, so it can "help" you find friends ? And dont' Microsoft, Google, Yahoo's T&Cs disallow that ?

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Do you hand over said passwords?

And if not, are you unceremoniously shown the door?

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Devil

Many ways to handle this

1) Sorry but Facebook does not allow people to share accounts under there terms and do you wish to employ somebody who will in all effect break your rules!

2) Sure, in return for your's and a bottle of cianti...

3) Sorry but I don't do facebook.

4) *click* I have just recorded you trying to break the law by blackmailing me into handing over personal information via the use of a unauthorised computer login which is located in AMERICA. Something that will get you extridited from the UK apparently. So tell me more about the perks with this job offer :).

5) Yes my password is "you are a stupid mother plucking moron that plebs in the face of life itself", allow me to repeat it for you again!

6) same as (5) but that is the wrong password and you have lots more fun getting your password wrong many many times.

7) Hand them the login details to there account you hacked prior to the interview, for a security firm this is the only answear you should be giving to such questions.

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Pint

Re: Many ways to handle this

Love it!

Especially #4

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Re: Many ways to handle this

No 4 is perfect! Love that Idea!

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Good idea, actually...

I like that idea. I'll ask the next candidate I have to interview for their Facebook creds. If they hand it over, the interview is over.

Because next time they're asked by someone else, they'll probably hand over the creds to their account on _my_ server.

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Anonymous Coward

If they could get away with it

I'm sure some companies would want to check the size of your dick in interviews for jobs not related to the porn industry...

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My employer recently fired a contractor for a pretty innocuous tweet, which just said he hadn't heard of some alleged celebrity who had been in the office for a PR event. This despite the fact that the guy was competent (a miracle in this day and age where contractors seem to be uniformly crap) and we really needed the extra resource to complete a mountain of work.

That said, I'm being interviewed for a new role and it's been made clear the employer want a full security check on all successful applicants. Not sure what this entails, but I'd be surprised if it didn't include a trawl around the Intertubes.

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Gimp

Precedent...

In the early nineties, when I and my college mates were trying to blag ourselves industrial placements, a certain well-known company demanded all applicants supply details of their drinking habits. A lot of us decided not to bother with them on the grounds it wasn't any of their business.

Unfortunately most big companies regard their employees as chattel and always have done. Don't encourage them.

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Mushroom

The moment an interviewer asks me for a social network login is the moment I stand up and walk out without another word. I'd no more let someone access that stuff than I would let them read my mail.

None of their godamned business.

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