We have written numerous articles in the past about potential employers and university admissions offices requiring applicants to divulge their Facebook passwords during the application process.
The last week or so has seen this issue receive a firestorm of media attention. Even Facebook itself weighed in on Friday with a blog post by its Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan.
Facebook’s position is that users should never have to share their passwords. It is actually a violation of their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities “to share or solicit a Facebook password.”
The post goes on to briefly explain the legal issues a potential employer may face by requesting this access. There is also the issue of violating the privacy of the friends of the potential applicant. As a user, you might be ok with ‘Tom’ seeing your private Facebook information, photos, etc., but would you want an unknown human resource manager having this same access? Of course not!
Erin Egan ends the post by stating, “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.”
Over the weekend, several articles were written about the possibility of Facebook pursuing legal action against offending employers. According to Mashable, Facebook released a follow-up statement clarifying their position, “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s right the thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users.”
Even two U.S.Senators have joined in the fray. Epic reports the senators are asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate the legality of employers requiring Facebook login credentials. The Senators aptly pointed out that employers could be privy to information they are not permitted to ask during the hiring process. This fact could, in fact, cause the employer to violate the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws.
Maryland and Illinois have legislation proposed that would make it unlawful for public agencies to request social media login information.
It will be interesting to see how this pivotal privacy issue plays out.
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PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.
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