Employers, students differ on Internet privacy
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:04
You might not think it’s a big deal what you put on Facebook, whether it be pictures from that crazy night in Las Vegas or rantings about your insane management at work.
But both potential and current employers are starting to take Facebook pages a little more seriously, with some even asking for username and password information from employees.
This recent controversy surrounding employers who are seeking Facebook information from potential and current employees has Dixie State College students on both sides of the issue.
Terry Blackburn, a freshman integrated studies major from St. George, said he’s strongly opposed to employers asking for Facebook information.
“The fact that a lot of employers ask for usernames and passwords so they can look at everything you’ve done—it’s a violation of privacy,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn said he thought Facebook should be private and employers should not pay attention to employees’ accounts.
“Everybody has the right to rant and vent their opinions,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like their jobs, and they have to have that way out.”
Blackburn also said he thought people would not seek out Facebook pages for information about companies.
“It’s not as if everybody’s going to go searching for particular words for companies,” he said. “If you’re looking to do business with a company, you’re not going to look to Facebook to see what people are saying.”
Blackburn also said he thought it was wrong if employers force employees to friend the company’s Facebook page.
David Drake, a junior computer science major from St. George, said he felt similarly.
“I don’t know much about law, but it seems to me that asking for someone’s password to a clearly social media website just seems ridiculous,” he said.
Drake said he could see the necessity of looking at a potential employee’s Facebook page in certain circumstances.
“Maybe if you’re incredibly famous for some reason—but even then asking for a password is going too far,” he said. “Maybe if you’re the public face for a certain company, then some scrutiny is called for.”
Drake said in those cases, he could see employers demanding Facebook access as a condition for employment. But, he said for most jobs, he didn’t see the point.
“If I was going to be hired to be a programmer for some company, who cares what I’m posting on Facebook,” he said.
Drake said he thought it was reasonable for employers to ask employees to friend the company Facebook pages. However, Blackburn said he believed that technique was just as wrong.
“That’s not right, and it shouldn’t be part of employment,” Blackburn said.
Sariah Romney, a freshman nursing major from Duck Creek Village, said she wasn’t necessarily against employers looking at Facebook pages and that employees need to be careful about what they put on Facebook.
“I don’t put anything negative or immoral, like bad pictures,” she said. “I don’t like to start fights on Facebook either because I always think of how an employer could look you up.”
While Romney said she didn’t think employers needed to know what exactly employees are doing, she said she thought employers should know who you are.
“You might have someone who’s always complaining and starting fights,” she said.
Romney also said people need to be careful about making pages private or public.
“That is my personal information,” she said. “I have mine blocked so they can’t look at it, but if someone has it open for everyone, they’re inviting everyone to come look.”
As to what sort of proactive posting should go on, Katie Rasmussen, a manager at Bohme Boutique, said employees should keep in mind the image of the company.
“What our employees do reflects on us,” Rasmussen said. “I think, in my personal opinion, [employees] can post positive things.”
Rasmussen said employees should help promote the company as well through their Facebook pages by posting about sales or new arrivals.
“There’s always going to be a way for someone to look at [Facebook,” she said. “A lot of professional people will look at your Facebook, so I would keep it as professional and positive as you can.”