Friday, March 23, 2012

Facebook Responds to Employers Asking for Account Passwords

Recently is was reported that there were a number of employers who were asking employees or individuals that they were interviewing for their Facebook passwords in order to have complete access to their profile. Since that report, Facebook has responded with its opinion about the situation.

In a blog post Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said, "This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability."

“As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” she continued. “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do. “

Facebook has made sure to point out the fact that sharing your password with someone is technically violating the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. When registering for a Facebook account, users agree to the account security statement that states, “you will not share your password… let anyone else access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also criticizes this practice that employers have been using. A blog post written by the union’s attorney Catherine Crump said, “It's an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people's private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process. People are entitled to private lives. You'd be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It's equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person's private social media account."

There has been legislation that has been proposed in Maryland and Illinois to ban employers from asking employees and interviewees for their Facebook passwords. Also, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said on Wednesday that he is currently writing a federal bill that would completely ban the practice.

Egan ended the blog post saying, “Facebook takes your privacy seriously. We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including shutting down applications that abuse their privileges. While we will continue to do our part, it is important that everyone on Facebook understands they have a right to keep their password to themselves, and we will do our best to protect that right.”

Sources: PCMag - Facebook Condemns Those Requesting Passwords of Interviewees, Employees, ACLU - Your Facebook Password Should Be None of Your Boss’ Business and Facebook - Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy

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