There have been several reports that employers are asking their employees or prospective employees to provide facebook passwords. The purported reason is so that employers can research employees on whether they have posted any anything bad about the company or anything that might show the company in a bad light.
This may also be used to check if the person has a habit of posting anything bad about other companies. The logic is that if they could do it to other companies, they probably do it to this company also.
Facebook has come out with advice on what to do about employers asking for passwords. The short answer is “no, don’t give it”. The problem is that when an person really needs the job, they might feel forced to provide the password.
While this can be a problem for employees, it can also be a problem for employers. For instance, if a person applies to a company, the company asks for their password, the person provides it and then the company rejects the employee, the employee might file a law suit saying that he/she was rejected because of, say he/she belonged to a particular group, maybe the “over 50 facebook group”, some specific ethnic group or some such thing. Too much information can also be a problem for the company and open it to allegations of discrimination.
It is a violation of Facebook policy to provide passwords to someone else. Facebook can jump up and down, but they cannot do much about it. But they are approaching this issue differently. They are lobbying congress to make it an offence for employers to ask for passwords. Senator Richard Blumenthal is preparing a bill that would make it an offence for employers to ask for a job applicant’s password on Facebook and other social networks.