A third of the public is OK with workers getting fired for inappropriate Facebook posts, according to a poll released Monday, and now some employers are taking the inspection of social media profiles to another level by demanding Facebook passwords from applicants as part of their screening process.
In a Rassmussen Reports poll, 33% of respondents said employers should be able to fire workers over inappropriate Facebook posts. Nearly 70% said companies should not be able to access your account using your password, and 35% said it should be illegal for Facebook to be a factor at all.
Social media's relationship with the workplace has always been vague, but now more than ever your digital life is seeping into your professional one, and some experts say it's going too far.
"It used to be that people would have to scrub their Facebook profiles," said David Jacobs, consumer privacy fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "Now it seems like even if you take those steps, you really have to make sure that everything you've ever done is employer friendly," he said, adding that the scrutiny has reached a level of invasiveness that's "excessive and unreasonable."
MSNBC reported last week that some Maryland companies are asking applicants for their Facebook passwords. And though the practice hasn't been widely adopted, some experts say it may just be the new way of doing things.
"This is just an unfortunately reality that we're going to have to live with," said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute.
"If you go in for an interview and the interviewer says, 'I want your Facebook password' and you say no, you may have a good case against them but you won't have a job," Maltby said. "Unfortunately, this will become the norm."
Still, others were more optimistic that the public outrage about employers prying into the private lives of workers will be enough to end the practice before it becomes the standard.
"It seems like there might be enough of a backlash already to kind of stop or reduce this before it becomes ubiquitous," Jacobs said, adding that in Illinois and Maryland lawmakers have introduced bills to stop employers from asking for Facebook passwords.
For some New Yorkers, it's all just become too much already.
"It's crazy. You can't even have a personal life any more," said Lionel Kerr, 30, of the South Bronx. "Everyone will leave Facebook and go back to texting each other."
(with Sheila Anne Feeney)
Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera