We weren’t the only ones shocked to find out that employers have been asking job applicants or in some cases, actual workers, for the passwords to their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. Facebook has issued a statement addressing that practice, calling it “alarming.”
In a post this morning on Facebook’s blog called “Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy,” Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer, Policy bashes the practice of employers or anyone else putting pressure on users to gain access to their Facebook accounts. That’s not the point of Facebook, says the company, and undermines the expectation of privacy.
The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidences of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords. If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends. We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.
As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password.
They go on to explain that not only do they think employers shouldn’t be asking for private info in the first place, because it’s wrong, but that it could even cause problems for them if they do gain access. They could end up being sued for discrimination over not hiring someone, perhaps because that person is a member of a protected group, like senior citizens, etc.
Facebook isn’t going to take this kind of privacy issue sitting down, they say, and will take action, whether “by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”
Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy [Facebook]