View Poll Results: Should it be illegal for employers to ask for Facebook passwords?

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  • This is already illegal, covered under existing anti-discrimination laws

    11 25.58%
  • We need new legislation to make this illegal

    17 39.53%
  • It's poor judgment on the part of the employers, but doesn't need to be illegal

    13 30.23%
  • It should be legal, so that employers can conduct a thorough background check

    2 4.65%
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Thread: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

  1. #1
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    Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    As some of you may have heard, some employers are starting to ask their employees or potential employees for their Facebook passwords, in order to "do a background check" on them. Some have implemented this practice as a condition for employment, a condition for promotion, or even as a condition to not be fired. Obviously this is a huge invasion of privacy, but it also seems to walk a very fine line when it comes to existing anti-discrimination laws. If a potential employer browsed someone's Facebook, they could find out a lot more than their drinking habits...they could reasonably be expected to find out the person's religion, race, sexual orientation, whether they are expecting a child, what their political views on unions are, etc.

    Is this really a road that we should go down? Do we need legislation preventing this? What happens if an employer views someone's Facebook, sees that they're a member of a group typically associated with a certain race (e.g. NAACP or ADL or La Raza), and then decides not to hire them? Who knows if that was the actual reason they weren't hired, but I think the person could reasonably make the claim that they were discriminated against.

    And here is a great resignation letter from a man who had to ask potential employees for their Facebook passwords before he could hire them: I hereby resign - raganwald's posterous
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    What's with the stupid Nixon letter? Had to go irrelevent?
    "He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    Along with all the other aspects that you talked about there is one other that could be used in a very wrong way. They, or someone that found out the password due to it being in a file somewhere, could post something on your FB (or like site) that you never said. Something that could get you fired or get osterized by friends and/or family.

    Also there is the aspect that for some sites, they put in their TOS not to give out your password to anyone, and if they find out that you did then they can ban you from their site. (I know a lot of online games do this...not so sure about social sites though...)

    Obviously from these examples I am against an employer asking for such a thing. I'm not so sure if we should get the government involved though. Everytime the government gets involved things become crappy real quick. I suppose if too many employers start doing this then the government might very well need to get involved though. Because honestly I'm not sure that the courts could do anything about it. Like you said its a "he said she said" type deal with no way to prove anything one way or the other. And you do have the option of turning down employment that requires such a thing so it is completely "your choice".
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    if existing laws don't render this practice illegal, new laws should.

  5. #5
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    Now that i've read the letter, and yeah, the Nixon letter aside, I don't blame the guy one tiny ounce. And yes I do believe that it could open up a whole new chapter in lawsuit history if they are not extremely careful. So maybe this kind of thing won't get big enough for the government to intervene...at least until companies find out a way around discrimination suits....
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    I think it is already illegal depending if your account is private or not. My account is private and so an expectation of privacy exist even from an employer. If it was public, then no such expectation exist.

    PS: Since my account is private it does not come up in a search anyway. So I can just say I don't have one. End of story.
    Last edited by Black Dog; 04-03-12 at 08:19 AM.
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    To me it's an unjustified intrusion into one's personal life by an employer. My as well bring your mail to work everyday and let them paw through that. Forward all your e-mails while you're at it. Hell, even record your phone conversations. Chances are many people would reveal less personal information from these other activities than through their Facebook account.

    I also have to wonder, if the employers fails to keep the password secure does that now make them liable for any issues that arise like identity theft? We already know businesses get hacked and their information stolen, this just seems like one more way to make life easier on the criminals.

    ZDNet has had several blogs about this already and I expect more.
    The demand for Facebook login information is not only a gross breach of privacy for Officer Collins and his friends, it raises significant legal concerns under the Federal Stored Communications Act and Maryland state law, which protect privacy rights and extend protections to electronic communications ... As many of us begin to rely on sites like Facebook to stay connected to our friends and family, it’s important for employers and the government to keep in mind that, for most users, Facebook is a medium for private communications.
    Employer demands Facebook login credentials during interview | ZDNet

    Teacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password | ZDNet
    US senators: Investigate employers asking for Facebook passwords | ZDNet
    Last edited by MoSurveyor; 04-03-12 at 08:58 AM.
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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    It's a violation of Facebook's terms of service to give out your password to your employer, iirc. Iirc, that's what Facebook came out and said not tat long ago.
    I may be wrong.

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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    Normally I support a private sector employer with a lot of flak, but I would dare them to try that with me. My lawyer will give them my password. It'll come with the subpoena and the writ.

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    Re: Employers asking for Facebook passwords

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackdog View Post
    I think it is already illegal depending if your account is private or not. My account is private and so an expectation of privacy exist even from an employer. If it was public, then no such expectation exist.

    PS: Since my account is private it does not come up in a search anyway. So I can just say I don't have one. End of story.
    One should be able to , or simply just say "none of your damned business" !
    Of course, many upper management positions are most sensitive, the company must have ways of protecting themselves..

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