In response to employers demanding employees force over their Facebook passwords, Facebook has decided to fight back. But of course they are Facebook. And unsurprisingly, they are fighting back in their typical screw-you-I’m-Facebook style response.
They released a rather fiery indictment of the workplace practice, saying that it violates not only privacy rights but also Facebook’s own constitution of guidelines—you are not allowed to share or solicit Facebook passwords. They even went so far as to call it criminal, saying companies forcing employees or potential employees to pass over information is a violation. “As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” Facebook said in its post.
Facebook, in their very public release said that this practice affects users, ‘friends’ of users and employers themselves:
‘Friends’ of Users
According to the Facebook post users sharing their passwords violates the privacy of their friends’ personal information. When you ‘friend’ someone on Facebook they can expect a certain amount of privacy, given your privacy settings and theirs (let’s ignore for the moment the fact that Mark Zuckerberg publicly announced that privacy is dead). Password sharing violates these. While many people won’t be concerned about the privacy rights of their ‘friends’, they may be concerned about their bosses’ ability to snoop on them via their ‘friends’ social profile.
“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. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password.”
Employers who enter their employees’ social profiles will be legally liable for any information they uncover, including things that implicate their employees, or the company itself in a crime. “For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person,” Facebook wrote in the post.
So, now what?
Well, Facebook is telling users to just say no. Facebook will likely be backed up with the law (hence their legal soapbox), meaning that Facebook users should be fine. In theory.