A disturbing stream of reports have been circulating concerning employers demanding the Facebook passwords of potential employees before hiring them. Aside from the fact that such a demand is a gross breach of privacy and frankly opens those employers up to legal liability for all sorts of reasons, it’s just a crappy thing to do. The job market is tough, and plenty of desperate job seekers would do, say, or sign just about anything to land a job, and apparently some employers know that and are taking advantage of their leverage.
We know--it’s easy to become indignant upon reading this and boldly claiming that you’d rather starve to death than give up your Facebook
password as a matter of principle, but the reality is that if you’ve been unemployed for any meaningful length of time and the only thing standing between a penniless you and $40k a year, health insurance, and a 401k is eight little characters, it’s not such as easy choice.
However, Facebook users are getting some backup from a source that isn’t exactly known for giving a rip about your privacy: Facebook.
"You see, giving you my password is a violation of terms according to this document," you could say to your potential employer.
Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer (Policy) Erin Egan posted a message
about this topic and stated that “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.”
Egan also noted that sharing or soliciting a users’ password is actually a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
and laid out the case that employers are asking for trouble by doing so--not necessarily because Facebook will come after them, but because it’s the legal equivalent of opening a very large, stinky can of worms.
If you’re currently on the job market, you might want to bookmark that link to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.