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Potential employers, universities asking for Facebook access



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SALT LAKE CITY — More companies and unviersities are asking for greater access to Facebook profiles, with many employers asking upfront for access to a job applicant's private postings.

According to Bob Sullivan of msnbc.com, Maryland's Department of Corrections used to require a Facebook username and password on their job application. Now, the applicant is asked to log on while the interviewer looks over their shoulder.

Attorney Matt Durham with Stoel Rives in Salt Lake City said there are legal and practical concerns about employers asking applicants to see Facebook profiles.

"For example," Durham said, "employees may not want to work at a company that is too big brother-ish, or the information you get on Facebook isn't always accurate."


The problem is, what they can't use in making employment decisions — things like race, religion, gender and in some cases marital status or sexual orientation — that is all information that they might inadvertently get if they use social media.

–Matt Durham


Durham said employers asking for access to social media accounts may even raise first amendment concerns. A private employer could potentially face a lawsuit if they used information gained from Facebook in the hiring process.

"The problem is, what they can't use in making employment decisions — things like race, religion, gender and in some cases marital status or sexual orientation — that is all information that they might inadvertently get if they use social media."

Even some colleges and universities, including the University of Utah, ask student athletes to "friend" their coach or compliance officer. Although not required at the University of Utah, many universities around the nation require it.

Sullivan looked to the University of North Carolina's handbook, which explicitly describes each team's role, stating: "Each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of team members' social networking sites and postings. The athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes' posts."

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Mary Richards

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