Facebook, Lawmakers Warn Employers Not to Demand Passwords

Facebook and lawmakers have warned employers against requesting Facebook passwords while screening job applicants, a controversial practice that underscores the blurring distinction between personal and professional lives in the era of social media. The practice has reportedly grown more commonplace as companies increasingly regard profiles – or embarrassing photos from wild nights out – as windows into a prospective employee’s character. In some cases, job applicants were asked to browse through their Facebook accounts with an interviewer present. Facebook Inc’s Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, says the social networking company could “initiate legal action” against employers that demand Facebook passwords. Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, and lawmakers in several states say they are willing to introduce bills to prohibit this behavior. Opponents also warn employers they may be setting themselves up for legal issues regarding invasion of privacy and discrimination. “Employers have legitimate questions about a person’s job performance, but they can get that information the regular way, without cutting corners and violating people’s privacy,” said Leland Yee, a California state senator.

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