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Facebook: Users shouldn’t be forced to share info with prospective employers

Facebook has weighed in on the debate about whether employers should be able to ask Facebook users for their account passwords as part of the application process.

The answer from the social network? A resounding no.

In fact, the company has already stated that sharing an account password is a violation of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

“As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan wrote in a Friday morning blog post. “And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job.”

After the Associated Press reported on this growing trend, civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have decried the practice.

“It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process,” said ACLU attorney Catherine Crump. “People are entitled to their private lives.”

Following the report, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has said that he is working on a bill that would outlaw the practice.

“Senator Blumenthal is deeply troubled by reports of employers asking job applicants and current employees to surrender the login information for their social media accounts,” said the senator’s spokesperson Nu Wexler in a statement. “He believes the practice is an unusual invasion of privacy and is working on legislation that would ban it.”

Maryland and Illinois are already considering similar legislation, the Post’s Jena MacGregor mentioned in her blog post on the issue, though the Associated Press reported that legislators in Illinois have raised their own issues with the bill.

Critics of the measure have said that a provision in the bill that protects an employer’s ability to “maintain lawful workplace policies” contradicts the rest of the bill. The report said that the bill’s sponsor, Democrat Rep. La Shawn Ford, has said he will work on the language to protect employers and employees.

Related stories:

Forking over a Facebook password to an employer?

Resume, references, password: Some employers ask job seekers to share their Facebook logins

Illinois legislation to ban employers from asking for social network passwords hits snag

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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