Senators Call For Investigation Into Employers Asking For Facebook Access

Last week, Facebook came out swinging against the practice of employers asking employees or potential hires for access to their social network accounts, in order to dig around and find out more about them. And now, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer are pushing the government to investigate the matter further.

In an open letter (via Computer World) posted on Monday, Blumenthal and Schumer ask the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice to speak up regarding personal privacy and how employers use social networks to learn about candidates for employment.

“Employers have no right to ask job applicants for their house keys or to read their diaries,” Schumer said in a statement. “Why should they be able to ask them for their Facebook passwords and gain unwarranted access to a trove of private information about what we like, what messages we send to people, or who we are friends with?”

He added that it’s even more important when looking for a job, since the employers have all the power in the situation.

“Before this disturbing practice becomes widespread, we must have an immediate investigation into whether the practice violates federal law. I’m confident the investigation will show it does. Facebook agrees, and I’m sure most Americans agree, that employers have no business asking for your Facebook password,” he said.

Last week Facebook posted a statement on the controversial practice, telling users they would take action against any employers who abused the social network, and reiterated that you should never have to share your password.

“As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job.”

They also said they’d pursue legal action if necessary.

Senators seek probe of employers seeking Facebook info [Computer World]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    Schumer. Without even reading, TFA, I knew.

    Fuckin’ Chuck.

    • kc2idf says:

      I’ve got mixed feelings about they guy. Sometimes he’s just a flat-out idiot, but then he turns around and does something awesome.

      • StarKillerX says:

        My issue is that Schumer is the type that would scream about this on the Sunday news programs and them propose a law making it illegal for companies to ask for this info but the last page of the bill would also require everyone to give the government their Facebook login info so they can “protect it” for us.

        • Lucky225 says:

          I tend to agree, Schumer is fucking annoying, in other news if an employer feels it’s okay to ask for this stuff, just respond asking for their online banking passwords and see how they react to that one.

      • working class Zer0 says:

        I can’t believe I’m actually supporting Chuck Schumer on something. Maybe the Mayans are right!

    • zumdish says:

      The most dangerous place in the world to stand is between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera.

  2. framitz says:

    There should be no need to waste time in the Senate discussing this garbage.
    Let the users and faceplant work it out.
    I ain’t giving no login ID or passwords to anyone, for any reason, at any time.

    • shaman66 says:

      It’s an election year.. They are after the biggest media splash, not genuine fixes.

    • Kate says:

      That would be nice, but in today’s environment of the employers have huge power, they are taking advantage even when it’s pretty obviously illegal to do stuff, future employees won’t turn them in.

      • amuro98 says:

        If a place I was interviewing at asked for my password I’d laugh and tell them ‘no.’

        If I didn’t get the job, I’d sue them. Given that my industry is computer security, anyone stupid enough to even ask this deserves to be publicly outed.

    • dolemite says:

      This is something that should be taken up by Congress. We already have employment protection laws that protect us from employers asking certain things. Having us log into personal accounts seems to skirt those laws. Having Congress address it is simply attempting to keep those employment laws up to date with rapidly changing technology.

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      Because the job market doesn’t give the employers the advantage over people to scared to not comply at all.

      That’s why it’s bunk we have laws against asking women if they are married or have/plan on having kids. WHAT a waste of congress’s time because we should have told those wommin to just stand up and say no. Pansies.

      (BTW, if you login to someone’s FB account, you’d be able to see illegal things you can’t ask about in a job interview – like age, marital status, etc.)

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:



    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I would remind any employer that requiring me to log in to Facebook is akin to asking me if I am married, have children, and what age and religion I am since they would gain access to that info as soon as I logged them in. Then, I would leave. That is if they could even find my account. My maiden name isn’t associated with it. I have every block possible. I also often have pics of other things as my profile pic and have a very common name. I wouldn’t be adverse to lying and saying I don’t have an account, b/c in my profession, students will try to friend me etc… And that is unprofessional. Hence the reason I have made myself almost impossible to find on FB.

  3. shaman66 says:

    Dear Congress,

    I feel safer already. Now, can we move on to the mountain of more pressing issues that Congress has thus far either ignored or made worse?

    • failurate says:

      Do you really think that all other activity stops when an issue is brought up? That all government comes to a halt to deal with each issue, big and not so big? (this one is actually pretty big)

      I see and hear comments like yours pretty often and I wonder, is that how those folk really think things work?

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        No, but I sometimes get the feeling that they use certain issues (abortion and other social issues) to distract us from the bigger issues (like the economy and entangling foreign adventures). Also to keep us divided and the electorate complacent so we don’t realize we have more in common with each other than the people we keep sending to Washington. If we ever realized that, we might actually change something.

  4. areaman says:

    What are the names of the companies that asked people for their FB login and passwords?

    Why are the not mentioned in the articles?

    • uber_mensch says:

      And it’s time we objected to companies being able to use our credit history/score as the basis for hiring or not hiring someone, too.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        The credit check makes sense for some jobs, but most jobs don’t need to know that either. Hell I still have somewhat bad credit from back when I was 19. In my thirties now and a different person, just haven’t been able to repair all the bad stuff yet.

        Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get most jobs. CPA, sure don’t hire me. Construction/retail/CSR, yeah credit doesn’t matter.

        • Not Given says:

          Even a bankruptcy can only stay on your credit for 10 years, other stuff 7 years. Get a paper copy of the report by mail and dispute everything older than that as obsolete. The online copy may not have everything on it that someone gets when they run your credit.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        You know I thought that was being looked into by Senate/House as well. Guess it’s not valuable enough to be splashed around during an election year.

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      Other articles I’ve read it has actually been mostly government jobs – city jobs, police, etc, that have been this brazen. Although there have been private employers, too.

      In addition, it’s not just limited to asking for your password.

      For instance, Sears is requiring you “friend” someone in HR so they can see your profile.

  5. Admiral_John says:

    Yeah, because the US Senate has nothing better to do with its time, now that the deficit is gone, all of our soldiers are home and…

    … nevermind, I don’t have it in me.

  6. shufflemoomin says:

    To be fair, I know there’s been a lot of media exposure over this practice, but is there any concrete evidence that anyone actually HAS asked for this info?

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      This is a good question. Another is, are any companies still doing it after all the media?

    • Malik says:

      I was asking myself the same question. Normally, when someone is protesting a particular corporate practice, there are a few companies named and they attempt to defend the practice. In this case, there is no one named specifically, just the notion that “It’s happening more often than you think”.

      I am almost getting the impression that someone is making up a story

      • airren says:

        I have felt for awhile that this story is a complete fabrication. Someone wanted some attention so they made the whole thing up and reported on this shocking developments.

        • Admiral_John says:

          I actually think that employers have asked potential employees if they have a Facebook account and, if so, what the account name is. I have a hard time believing that employers are actually asking for login info.

    • CoachTabe says:

      Other than a school district pressuring a student to log in in front of them, I haven’t seen any specific examples.

  7. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Zuckerberg’s retalityory tactics…Poke them so hard!

  8. msbask says:

    Hey, Chuck? Please get back to REAL work and let people handle this themselves.

    Me? Simple enough to say “I don’t have one” and move on with my life. How are they going to prove that I do? Would them finding out later that I did be a fireable offense? What if I don’t have one today, but get one tomorrow?

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      It takes 2 seconds to fine a facebook profile by email. Your email is most likely on your resume (although I’m smart enough to use a separate email for all job hunting). They can literally pull up your profile as you sit in their office and say “ok, I want access to THIS…”

    • RayanneGraff says:

      That’s not the point though. If some guy came up & demanded your wallet, would you be content with just saying “I don’t have one”, or would you want him arrested? If you don’t stand up to him he’ll just find another victim. Everyone has a right to privacy, we shouldn’t have to bare our asses or lie to protect info that employers have no right to ask about in the first place.

  9. Buckus says:

    Things I don’t share before actually being hired or tenatively offered a position: Social Security Number, references, previous salary history (they can ask what I’d like my salary to be: I say a large number and they say if that’s ok or not), etc.

    If anyone asked me for my Facebook account information, I’d ask “Seriously?” If they said yes, I’d thank them for their time and leave.

    While this may not be the most important apple in Congress’ basket, it certainly is worth taking up before it becomes a widespread abuse.

    They should also make it illegal to use credit checks to make a hiring decision, even for financial positions. Although I know that certain government positions require credit checks to make sure the candidate wouldn’t be as susceptible to being bribed to give up state secrets.

  10. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Wasn’t it just ONE instance of an interviewer asking for the guy’s Facebook login info?

    • dwtomek says:

      Nope, the city of Bozeman in Montana was doing this for quite awhile, by their own admission. Although I’m not sure if that was the incident that kicked off the media backlash or not. When I heard the guy mention it during a lecture about social networking impacts in the government sector, I honestly thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

      As for all of the people bemoaning this as a waste of time, clearly you haven’t been in the market for a job in a long time. This IS a big deal. Where exactly would you recommend we draw the line? If you are assuming the “free market”will sort this on its own, you are quite mistaken. The employers are holding the whole deck here and don’t have much incentive to change policy, excepting a good public shaming of course. But I suppose, out of sight, out of mind eh?

      PS I am employed to my satisfaction. I just have the capability of viewing things from perspectives beyond my own. I used to think it was a common trait. These days, I’m not so sure.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        I agree that many people don’t have the perpsective of those unemployed. It’s like those who say they wouldn’t protest the TSA screenings at aiports…unless they had some place really important to get to. When you need a job, especially if you have been unemployed for a long period of time, it’s not unreasonable to bow to something that others see as unreasonable.

  11. Bunnies Attack! says:

    This is interesting but I wonder if there’s any concern about employers who are demanding access to your personal email and FB passwords as a condition of continuing to work there. I’m still in touch with friends at my previous employer (mid sized A/E firm) and they dropped off the face of the earth all of a sudden. I called up and they said that they shut everything down because my old employer is demanding their login and password to their private email and FB accounts.

    The rationale the employers use is that these sites are accessed through company computers therefore they have a right to monitor them. Their other reason is that they also want to monitor them to make sure you don’t email sensitive data to yourself.

    Is this the case anywhere else? or is it just my old company having a psychotic IT department?

    • Not Given says:

      I wouldn’t access stuff like that on company computers. Even if they don’t ask for passwords, what if they install keyloggers?

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      Yeah, there’s no way my employer’s getting the passwords to my personal e-mail. I use that for things that are just that, personal, and my employer has no business knowing what is in there. I’ve used it for banking purposes, tax purposes, educational purposes, medical communications, even briefly for online dating. I am not giving my employer free reign to poke around in there. Fuck. That. Shit.

    • Conformist138 says:

      So while every other rationale employer merely utilizes web filters and blocks to keep people from using those services while at work, that company decided complete 100% free reign and control over every employee’s private accounts and email was ok? Do they do full cavity searches when employees go home in the evening?

  12. evilpete says:

    The fact that employers are seeking Facebook passwords tells me that the privacy system Facebook has put in place is actually working, else would be getting this info via background checks

    • yurei avalon says:

      Tehehe I like the option to not be searchable by the public. Found out it works the other day when I asked someone to friend me and they couldn’t find my name. I went “oh right” and friended them instead.

  13. Hi_Hello says:

    I wonder if these company’s has a policy not to give their own computer login password out…even to IT …

  14. SkullCowboy says:

    Funny how Dick and Chuck seem to be all up in arms about employers wanting to dig through my online private parts while the Federal Gov’t can pretty much do the same thing on a whim.

    At least the employers are asking for permission…

  15. corridor7f says:

    People need to start thinking in terms of “do I want to work here?”. Anyone who asks for personal info like this – the answer is no.

  16. Velvet Jones says:

    The problem with this type of BS is that it exposes the privacy of people who are completely unrelated to the applicant. Company X can now see photos and posts of all of your friends. This should be a legal violation in and of itself.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      That is one of my other main problems with this is that if I log in, they have access to things that my friends may have blocked my other friends from seeing. I don’t have a legal right to expose my friends’ potentially private info.

  17. NumberSix says:

    Can’t you just say you don’t have a Facebook account? It’s not a given that someone has one.