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Most Americans would give up work to keep online privacy

Published: Wednesday, April 18 2012 12:03 p.m. MDT

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville displays part of a Facebook page and an enlarged profile photo of fugitive Maxi Sopo in Seattle in 2009. Federal officials are using Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime fighting.

Elaine Thompson, AP

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More than half of Americans would turn down work to protect their privacy if an employer asked for Facebook and Twitter log-in information, according to a survey conducted by CouponCodes4u.com

The study surveyed 2,837 Americans between ages 21 and 28 in light of privacy controversies surrounding employers and social networking. The research showed 53 percent of respondents would turn down a job offer if asked for social media log-in credentials.

Nine percent of respondents would consider deleting their Facebook profiles to avoid employer-probing in the future.

A third of respondents said it is a belief in personal privacy on social networks that would lead them to walk away from a job opportunity. Another 18 percent said employers have no legal right to ask for log-in information.

“What is more surprising is that employers in some cases find it necessary to demand interviewees’ log-in details for Facebook and even Twitter,” Mark Pearson, chairman of CouponCodes4u.com, said in a statement. “Surely, there must be a better way to interview your job candidates?”

Not all value privacy over a job, with others keeping their pages clean to avoid problems.

The survey showed that 39 percent would be willing to give their log-in details to an employer.

Despite the kickback against prying employers, 52 percent of respondent in the survey said that having a job with steady income is “more important than their privacy.”

“Perhaps we all should be careful about what we post on Twitter and Facebook as it is becoming more and more the norm for employers to research your Internet profiles before asking for an interview,” Pearson said in the release. “Those photos from your vacation may have been funny at the time but could cost you that job further down the road.”

Some experts are warning companies about the dangers of digging too deep.

Jim Finkelstein, business consultant and author of "Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace," said that employers may be losing skilled workers and hindering productivity by building a culture of distrust and judgment.

"Presumption is a horrible thing to have on the side of an employer," Finkelstein said in a statement to the Deseret News. "You want to conduct the proper background checks, but going as far as checking an applicant's Facebook or other private accounts will only lead you down a road of misconceptions about the potential hire."

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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