Job applicants bypass Facebook password problem

May 8, 2012 7:40:15 PM PDT
Reports that some employers are asking job applicants for their Facebook passwords has sparked outrage among privacy advocates. Some want a ban on the practice. Now some Facebook users have taken matters into their own hands.

"Sometimes I'm hiding things from my mom and dad," said Paul Van Straatum of Oakland.

Van Straatum, 25, regrets some of the things he posted on Facebook when he was younger.

"Just think about when you were young and what you did in college. You may not want every picture and video or even conversation you had with your friend posted in public information," said Straatum.

Priya Jagannathan, 22, of Union City feels the same way.

"When I first had the Facebook, I didn't really know how to use it quite well and I was ranting on Facebook," said Jagannathan. "I've had a lot of family friends saying 'Why are you doing this? Why are you ranting.'"

Both Jagannathan and Straatum think they have found a way around their early indiscretions. Straatum has two Facebook pages -- a personal and a professional one.

"I keep my business Facebook for my family and my adults and my networking, my business networking partners. And my personal Facebook for friends," said Van Straatum.

He separates the two by using a nickname known only to his friends for his personal facebook ID and his real name for his professional facebook page.

"You can't find me on Facebook," said Jagannathan.

Priya uses a similar tactic to keep her privacy. Her Facebook id is a nickname known only to her friends. She also sets her privacy settings so that her name is not searchable.

"That's what I want. I don't want people finding me. I'll find them," said Jagannathan.

Jagannathan just recently graduated from San Francisco State and is looking for a job. She's heard that some employers are asking job applicants for their Facebook passwords and thinks she would likely feel pressured to give it to them if asked.

"I would really like the position, so I would do anything to get it," said Jagannathan.

But she feels she is protected because she restricts many of her posts to only a select group of friends. Patrick Ambron co-founded a website called Brand Yourself which helps people protect their reputation online.

"People think they're safe when they have their privacy settings, but that's not the case. What you put out there is easily found," said Ambron.

He thinks Van Straatum's idea of having two Facebook pages won't work either.

"It's on the web, someone can find it. It's a risk," said Ambron. "If you have something that's questionable, don't keep it on the web."

A measure to ban employers from asking job applicants for their passwords has been defeated on the national level, but here in California, a bill by St. Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, is still alive in the State Senate.

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