Friday, March 23, 2012

Facebook Warns Prospective Employers Not to Ask for Passwords in Job Interviews

A story about employers asking prospective workers for their Facebook passwords during job interviews has spread rapidly this week on the Web. Now, Facebook itself has joined the fray, warning employers to back off.

When I first heard about the story, I thought it was a joke. But it's serious, as this piece from Reuters shows, with its headline "More Employers Asking for Facebook Passwords." From the Reuters piece:

Studies have shown that Facebook can be a useful hiring tool. Just a 5- to 10-minute perusal of a user’s profile can net more information than a basic personality test. It’s no wonder employers head to the site to check out prospective hires.

But one problem remains: Many users are now going private, cutting off their profiles from outside viewers. As a result, a new trend has emerged. Employers are reportedly now asking job applicants for Facebook passwords. Is this a good idea? Can you legally ask a job applicant for a Facebook password?

Reuters quotes a law professor who says the practice is "an egregious privacy violation," but then adds it appears to be legal. Facebook now has weighed in, strongly suggesting that employers drop the tactic. From an Associated Press report:

Facebook is warning employers not to demand the passwords of job applicants, saying that it’s an invasion of privacy that opens companies to legal liabilities.

The social networking company is also threatening legal action. . . .

In a post on Friday, Facebook’s chief privacy officer cautions that if an employer discovers that a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer may open itself up to claims of discrimination if it doesn’t hire that person.

“If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password,” Erin Egan wrote.

It's unclear what kind of legal action Facebook might take. But if the social-network giant were to start suing employers who discriminate against its users . . . well, this could get interesting.


Anonymous said...

I would say "Oh sure you can have my password and login information.. As long as you give me your password to your bank account!"

OR YOU COULD ALWAYS GO TO ANOTHER EMAIL ADDRESS and set up a fake account.. Give them that one! Just post family oriented, how much I love my job, what a great boss I have type post.. and on your real one.. YOU CAN RAISE HELL and post photo's of you at the nudist colony for what you did on your summer vacation! There is always a way to get around things! AND RULES WERE MADE TO BE BROKEN!


jeffrey spruill said...

Why's Facebook asking employers to back off when Zuckerberg thinks of users in these terms:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"

Zuck: Dumb fucks.