Shroff: Employers seeking Facebook access

00:13, May 11 2012

Some job applicants are being asked by potential employers to allow access to their Facebook page, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says.

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Shroff this morning told Parliament's Justice and Electoral select committee that she would like to investigate anecdotal evidence of the trend but did not have enough resources.

"We certainly have anecdotal evidence that [job] applicants these days will often be asked to give access to their Facebook page," Shroff told MPs on the committee.

"My preliminary view is that it's undesirable to use that kind of pressure in any kind of application situation."

Overseas, some employers were even asking for an applicants Facebook account password, she said.


There was no hard evidence of that happening here, but Shroff said: "This is something that I wish we had the resources to do something about."

It was "likely to put people under pressure and show up stuff they might have done as a silly 15-year-old and then five years later they're a sensible 20-year-old but there is no way to withdraw that information permanently."

Her office had been approached with funding from Unesco to provide primary school teachers with kits of information to better inform children on Facebook precautions.

Outside of the committee, Shroff said the issue was a reminder that Facebook pages needed to be "handled really carefully".

"Facebook is now part of our social environment and apparently is becoming part of the employment environment. So it's yet another reason to think before you upload, think before you type that message in or post that photo that your Facebook page may be requested or may become available in some other way."

A recent survey commissioned by the Privacy Commissioner had found 11 per cent of people regretted putting information on Facebook.

People asked by potential employers for access to their Facebook page could ask why they wanted to know that and they could potentially refuse access.

"But it's liable to damage them - obviously people will have to weigh that up," Shroff said.