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May 09, 2012


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Why is this question even thinkable for any decent employer? What's next--asking for email passwords? People use facebook for direct, email like messages.

Nancy Leong

What relevant information could hiring committees gain from someone's Facebook account?

I haven't encountered this issue before. But it seems like it would be highly unlikely to yield useful information, and highly likely to make a bad impression on the candidate.

Larry Catá Backer

There is an a-symmetry of information here. If asked I might be willing to provide my password in exchange for those of the members of the hiring committee. I am less worried about snoopy colleagues than nosy administrators. Sadly, though, I would not be surprised to see this coming.


As a practicing attorney, I've had friends ask me for advice about issues through Facebook messages. I can't ethically release my password to third parties. It's also not something I'm willing to seek a waiver on either.

Imagine the conversation. Hi, close personal friend. I've been asked to release my Facebook password to this committee so they can rummage around to satisfy some curiosity about me. This will give them the ability to view all the details you disclosed to me about that incident with . . . yeah that one.

No one plans to practice over Facebook message. Still, when friends come to you through Facebook, you're obligated to protect their confidence even if you don't end up representing them.

Entirely apart from the professional obligations, I'd tell the committee to pound sand if I wasn't a lawyer for the same reason. It's not just my communications that are at issue here.

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