Posted March 23, 2012 10:34 am by with 4 comments

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As you have probably seen recently, there are reports coming out of Facebook accounts being an integral part of job interviews. Of course, we know that if something is public on Facebook it can be found by anyone. That’s fine. It’s the direct requests by employers to prospective employees to give them their login and password for their Facebook account that has many up in arms. Included in that many is Facebook itself.

Facebook released a statement called “Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy” that leads with

In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. 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.

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.

Of course, there is plenty of room for cynicism and sarcasm around that last sentence so you can go there if you like. Further along in the announcement, however, is some curious language that has an almost ACLU kind of ring to it. It reads

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.

Initiating legal action? Wow. That’s quite a statement. If someone now wrongs you with regard to the access to your Facebook account can you turn to the law firm of Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg and more Zuckerbergs for legal assistance. Imagine the late night commercials now. “If you have been wronged with regard to your Facebook account call Facebook Law immediately.”

This is some big talk from Facebook since they have nearly 900 million prospective “clients” from which these kinds of situations can arise.

I guess the bigger question I would ask is “Is the economy that bad still that people would consider working for a business that asked that kind of question in an interview?”

Have you ever had anyone request your Facebook credentials in order to get a job or move ahead in anything? If so please share. I may need to consider law school of this can of worms cracks open as wide as it could. 😉

  • This is a very interesting story, and I will be curious to see how this turns out. I would be interested to see the employer’s rationale for wanting complete access to a potential employee’s Facebook. I’m not sure what valuable work information could come from this. A policy like this seems like it would detract a lot of candidates who would feel uncomfortable with this policy.

    Mosaic Technology

  • MrAndrewJ

    If that question came to me, it would raise red flags about the employer. Have they read the user agreement at Facebook? Can i watch their family dinner on Skype like they want in on my family conversations? Do they expect me to betray the trust of friends & family then follow through a non-disclosure agreement about their business? Was anyone thinking when they produced this policy or is management timidly following a herd without asking questions?

    My answer is no. I have private correspondance with all kinds of artists, performers, and creative types. I don’t want to work for someone who thinks betraying them is a good thing.

    I’ve been wondering how long Facebook would allow this to go on without saying something. This is in violation of every user agreement I have ever read (but apparently that the Internet-ignorant managers have never read). It’s hard to imagine Facebook being comfortable with this.

  • Kara

    This smacks of being an urban legend. Are there any documented cases of this really? Employers aren’t legally allowed to ask a whole raft of questions that are potentially prejudicial, demanding access to prospective employee personal info, let alone accounts, just doesn’t ring legal or true.