Recently, media outlets have been reporting about a new jobseeker experience: would-be employers requesting Facebook passwords to vet comportment online. The reports have said that the job applicants were asked, and not forced, to hand in their passwords, but the inherent imbalance of power between the parties involved makes it seem a lot like coercion. Don’t hand over your password and you won’t get the job, seems to be the subtext of the request.
Facebook has taken action on the matter: as of today, the company deems it a violation of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password. The announcement of the change in rules was made on the company’s Web site. Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer wrote the announcement. In her words:
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.
Facebook is already being applauded for standing up for the privacy of its users, at least in this matter.