It’s been a big topic in the news lately, one that particularly troubles privacy activists and your average Facebook user alike: Employers, governmental agencies, and even colleges are beginning to demand employees and students’ Facebook passwords.
The trend has been reported on numerous times recently. One report discussed the practices of certain state government facilities demanding access to a prospective employee’s Facebook account, as well as some colleges that require “social media administrators” that can monitor student-athletes’ accounts. Another told the story of a particular individual who withdrew his application to a company after they demanded his login information.
Today, Facebook has responded to the password-demanding trend, and they land on the side of the user and their privacy.
In short, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan says that Facebook users shouldn’t be forced to share private info just to land a job, and that the recent practice “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends.”
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.
Egan goes on to say that the practice is in fact a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which prohibits the sharing or soliciting of a Facebook password.
Facebook even says that if it comes down to it, they could initiate legal action when it comes to these privacy violations.
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 by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.
One crucial point that Egan stresses, which has been discussed before, it the possible liability that accessing a prospective employee’s Facebook account entails for the employer. What if an employer obtained a user’s password, checked out their information and found something they didn’t like? What if the something they didn’t like involved religion or sexual orientation? This could open the employer up to charges of discrimination.
What do you guys think? Is Facebook right in taking this stand? Is there any circumstance where an employer has the right to demand a password from an employee? Let us know in the comments.