Facebook has threatened that it could potentially take legal action against employers or job interviewers which ask employees or potentially job candidates for their login credentials.
This is a bold claim and one which may be extremely difficult to police.
Frustration from Facebook follows incidents such as that which occurred last week when Justin Bassett was asked to hand over his login details after it emerged that his profile could not be found on the site.
A similar scenario was reported to the Telegraph by Lee Williams who said that his Managing Director had asked for his Facebook credentials. It emerged that his boss thought he was hiding something because his privacy settings were locked down.
This was the message which Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer has put forward:
“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” She commented.
“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 jeopardise 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…That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s statement of rights and responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password,” she continued.
Chuck Schumer, a democratic senator for New York has called upon The American Department of justice as well as the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch an investigation into this.
“In an age where more and more of our personal information – and our private social interactions – are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from the would-be employers. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence,” Schumer said.
The legal stance is that employers are within their rights to ask the question however employees or prospective candidates have the right to refuse to give their details up. This is according to Paul Hood, an employment solicitor at Langleys law firm in Washington. However this is certainly not right if personal privacy choices mean you end up not getting a job.