Facebook May Sue Employers Who Want Passwords

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Facebook executives apparently don't "like" it when job interviewers ask for a job seeker's Facebook password. The social-networking giant is now threatening to sue employers who do so.

"We'll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action," Facebook's chief privacy officer announced in a statement Friday, according to UPI.

Sharing a Facebook password, or asking for someone else's password, violates Facebook's user agreement. An employer who requests such information may face "unanticipated legal liability," Facebook's statement said.

If a job interviewer asks for an applicant's Facebook password, gleans personal information from the applicant's Facebook page, and then fails to hire the applicant, that could expose the interviewer to a discrimination lawsuit, Facebook warned.

But aside from that warning, Facebook did not explicitly state what types of legal actions the company itself may pursue.

As this blog explained last week, the act of asking for a user's Facebook password in a job interview isn't illegal. Job interviewers are generally only prohibited from asking questions that are discriminatory in nature -- though some states also forbid questions about an applicant's credit history or criminal background.

That may change, if one lawmaker gets his way. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, says he plans to introduce a bill to prohibit job interviewers from asking for social-media passwords, PCWorld reports. Similar legislation has been proposed in Maryland, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Meantime, Facebook users continue to express outrage about job interviewers asking for Facebook passwords. "This is an invasion of our privacy," one user posted on our FindLaw for Consumers Facebook page. "Our government should step in and put a stop to this."

What are your thoughts on this issue? Head to our Facebook page to join the conversation.

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