Your Boss Can Now Require You to Turn Over Your Facebook Password -- but Should You?

Say What!? 12

You can always count on our representatives in Washington, D.C., can't you? They've always got our backs! Of course, by now you must know this is leading nowhere good, because who would say that with a straight face? Congress reportedly voted down a bill that would have made it illegal for employers to demand your Facebook and other social media account passwords as a condition of employment. Hmm. Since we, the taxpayers, employ these representatives, does that mean we can also demand their passwords?

This isn't the first time that Congress has ignored the increasing attempts of employers to take a peek into employees' social media accounts. The Password Protection Act 2012 was also not passed.

Doesn't seem like protecting private accounts is high on our reps' list of things to get done. Which means that if your employer asks for your password and you refuse to give it up, you could legally be fired or not hired.

If you think that this couldn't happen, think again. The ACLU tells the story of Robert Collins, a corrections supply officer with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. His boss asked for his passwords, claiming he was looking for gang affiliations. Ah, that old excuse!

In the past, I wrote that I pretty much wouldn't care if anyone checked my social media accounts, as I barely consider them private. However, I can see how there are plenty of reasons to keep these things to yourself -- for one, what if the boss is a perv who just wants to see who I'm dating? What if the boss wants to use personal information against me, like sexual orientation? What if the boss sees that I bought a new car and then decides if I bought a new car, I don't need a raise? I mean, the possibilities for nefarious use are endless.

Six states have already made this move by nosy bosses illegal. So if you've got something on your Facebook page that you really want to hide from your employers, you might want to consider moving to one of them.

Employers who demand this could be violating various privacy laws, but if you've ever tried to fight being fired -- especially in an at-will state -- you know how hopeless the whole situation is.

Would you give your passwords to an employer who demanded it or quit?


Image via West.m/Flickr

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nonmember avatar April

Nope. I would "friend" them to let them see what I post publicly, but they have no right to read my private messages or see what my settings are. That would be like them asking to see my mail. I would make it difficult. I would instruct them to subpeona paperwork from Facebook, as my contract with them states I cannot give out my password

IKnow... IKnow0101

If your employer requests personal passwords and usernames that are not job related politely declined and call HR.  If a prospective employer asks also decline and make a notation of it, because you can have a lawsuit on your hands.  The same way I won't give anyone my passwords to my personal laptop, bank accounts, educational files, etc. is the same reason why no one should have personal media account access. It's no one business.

Tracys2 Tracys2

Do we have to let them bug the office, give up email passwords (some do) and let them access our texts and phone calls? I'm really surprised nobody is talking about a "slippery slope" here. Checking my facebook/CafeMom PMs v my email/texts is very, very similar.

I don't write or do anything I'm ashamed of, but that doesn't mean I couldn't be fired for the church I belong to and help out with their facebook posts, fo rhaving friends of certain races, religions, etc... "at will" means pretty much anything if you can't proove they are violating a law. And they wouldn't let you proove that sort of thing. It's almost impossible. 

Foley... Foleygirl24

I wouldn't want to work from someone who demanded my passwords anyway.

Coles... Coles_mom

I can't even imagine how someone would get away with asking for that. I might friend then, but most definitely wouldn't give them my password. My own husband has never had my password! I have nothing to hide on my timeline/wall, but my private messages are NO ONE'S business but my own. My boss doesn't need to know I traded recipes with my great-aunt Sally or needed some encouragement from my pastor.

Rhodin Rhodin

Well, I don't use my real name on the internet, so if any future employers ask for passwords, I can truthfully tell them that there's no Facebook with that name.

Also, I know a lot of people use the same 2-3 passwords for everything, including things like Amazon and Paypal.  You just know some derp in HR is going to use those passwords to do a little amatuer identity theft and order themselves up a pile of Kindles with the new hires' credit cards.

Freela Freela

I would change my facebook page to something nowhere near my real name and tell them I didn't have a page. Problem solved.


jalaz77 jalaz77


PonyC... PonyChaser

Why don't we look at this another way? Ok, so you don't give out your passwords. That's a no-brainer. But if we need a law about it - and it appears we do - why not do what we're SUPPOSED to do, and get our STATES to make this law? As mentioned, some have already done this. Why not have them ALL do it? Why do we have to rely on the Federal Government, which has already proved itself damn near incompetent multiple times over?

Contact your local representatives - that's their job! Get THEM to get the ball rolling in your state. If all the states make it illegal to demand passwords, we don't need the feds to do it, do we?

tessi... tessiekat

I agree with PonyChaser. Contact your lcoal representatives, and get your co-workers, friends and family to do the same.

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