An employer looking to fill a position might think that asking job seekers for their Facebook log-in information is a simple and direct way to find out what they’re really like beyond the polished pomp of a formal interview, but Facebook has issued a warning to those in that mindset—don’t do it.
Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan lashed out against the practice and outlined its possible legal ramifications in a note posted to the site’s Privacy page Friday.
“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,” Egan wrote, before warning that the practice puts not only Facebook users and their friends at risk, but also the business doing the demanding.
“We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” said Egan. “But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating.”
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Discrimination claims are a hiring manager’s worst nightmare and snooping into someone’s Facebook page simply increases the risk of subconscious unfair judgments, outright bigotry or accusations of either based on the individual’s profile information.
Oh, and also—if an employer happens to see information that suggests that an individual may have been involved in a crime, they may have to assume responsibility for the protection or escalation of that information.
Egan also reminded us all that demanding someone give up their Facebook login information is a violation of the site’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
“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,” said Egan. “We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.”