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Job interview nightmares: Getting asked for your Facebook password threatens to become the new norm

In the age of social media, a person's online persona has wider real-life affects than a computer screen foretells.

Lovers scrutinize pictures and wall posts to catch cheaters, parents keep tabs on children through status updates, employers look over profiles to vet applicants.

Though job seekers found the latter revelation shocking several years ago, that social media screening process is now expected. Self-censorship comes naturally. We know who to befriend and who to deny. We know how to control privacy settings and de-tag photos of participation in those less-than-savory activities so popular in college. 

 This seems to violate personal privacy in the worst of ways — like bugging the applicant's house, reading a private diary and interrogating every family member or friend or even acquaintance to ever cross his or her path, all at once. 

 But as the Associated Press first reported, some prospective employers have taken the prying prescreen to a new level, breaking down applicants' carefully-constructed barriers and looking directly inside — by requiring a Facebook username and password.

The employer then typically logs in to the job applicant's Facebook account in the applicant's presence and starts looking around to see what's been blocked by privacy settings. 

I don't know how companies made employee selections before the rise of the Internet, but I can't imagine that an applicant would have to go to these lengths to prove him or herself worthwhile.

This seems to violate personal privacy in the worst of ways — like bugging the applicant's house, reading a private diary and interrogating every family member or friend or even acquaintance to ever cross his or her path, all at once. 

Plus, the tactic implies that the interviewee is guilty of something from the get-go, and has more to hide than a few spring break pictures, a couple of questionable group affiliations and mundane wall posts stretching back almost 10 years.  

So what's the solution? Refusal to sign in might not be the smartest option in a recovering but still-unfavorable job market. Deleting a Facebook account is a surprisingly complex procedure that doesn't necessarily guarantee that everything recorded on there will disappear forever. 

Tell us: How would you react?

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