Facebook warns employers not to demand passwords

Facebook is warning employers not to demand the passwords of job applicants, saying it's a privacy invasion that opens companies to legal liabilities.
Published: March 24, 2012
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Facebook is warning employers not to demand the passwords of job applicants, saying it's a privacy invasion that opens companies to legal liabilities.

The social networking company is also threatening legal action against those who violate its policy against sharing passwords.

An Associated Press story this week documented cases of job applicants who are being asked, at the interview table, to reveal their Facebook passwords so their prospective employers can check their backgrounds.

In a post Friday, Facebook's chief privacy policy officer warned that if an employer discovers a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer may face claims of discrimination if it doesn't hire the person.

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

Not sharing passwords is a basic tenet of online conduct. Besides privacy concerns, Facebook considers the practice a security risk.

“While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policymakers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said.

Associated Press

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