Are Silicon Valley Employers Asking for Social Media Passwords?

Another job search issue came up this week with employers asking for social media passwords to view and asses a job applicant’s private behavior outside of work. I haven’t ran into this issue while looking for my next work assignment in Silicon Valley, which may be a non-issue for most tech workers. My biggest annoyance—besides spending three hours filling out the HR paperwork for each job—is peeing in a cup for a drug test. I did see on my last background check authorization form that a social media search will be conducted. If I asked to reveal my social media passwords, I would say no for two obvious reasons.

Most Silicon Valley companies have a policy that employees should never volunteer and/or ask for passwords, which can be grounds for immediate termination. As PC technician I had the root password if I needed to access the computer. I often had to stop users from giving me their passwords and remind them what the policy was. If a company demands that I reveal my passwords before I get the job, how can they reasonably expect me to uphold their password policy?

I have the opposite problem when it comes to social media passwords: my anonymous alter ego has only an email address and a LinkedIn account. That’s it. A Google search turns up nothing but emails sent to various technical Usenet group in the 1990’s. Facebook, nada. Twitter, nada. Blogs, nada. NOTHING! My anonymous alter ego is so boring that Clark Kent looks sexy and exciting in comparison.

None of my employers or coworkers know that I’m a programmer and a writer working under a variation of my legal name for my own content producing business with a family of websites. A background research company will have to dig deep into the Google search results to establish an a tenuous connection between my anonymous alter ego and my public business persona. (When LinkedIn suggested that my business account should “link” my personal account, I deleted the business account.) As far as everyone is concern in the big blue room, I’m just a boring guy who likes to read books and watch movies.

Someday I expect not to get  a job because my Internet presence fell into the bit bucket in the 1990’s. When that day does happen, I’ll be ready to move full time into my content producing business.