Who’s the boss now, Facebook?

posted at 10:30 am on March 25, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

If this has turned into a trend, I certainly wasn’t aware of it, but then I wouldn’t even have a Facebook account any more if I could figure out how to delete the darn thing. (I simply never got in the habit of using it.) But it seems that at least some employers – and potential employers during the interview process – are asking about getting into the locked accounts of some users of the social network. And while Facebook isn’t exactly known for protecting the privacy of its users, they seem to be up in arms over it.

Facebook follows the news just like you do. And it’s been paying attention to the weird and worrying new trend that employers have asked prospective employees for their Facebook passwords during the hiring process.

Today, Facebook, in the name of “protecting your passwords and privacy,” has made it a violation of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to “share or solicit a Facebook password.”

Well, that sounds all well and good I suppose. But it also sounds pretty much entirely unenforceable. I mean, what are they going to do? Sue somebody? Oh… wait…

But! It’s not just that sharing or soliciting passwords is now a violation of Facebook’s terms of service. There’s more. “We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users,” Egan notes, “whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”

In other words: It looks like Facebook is considering suing the parties who ask for its users’ passwords.

This sounds pretty crazy to me, but I’m no lawyer. (And in this case, I don’t even play one on TV.) Personally, I think this falls back on an old rule of thumb in the internet age. If you need to work for a living or do anything outside of your online life, you simply can’t take anonymity for granted. Don’t put anything out on the web unless you’d be comfortable having your family, your enemies and – yes – even your employer or prospective boss seeing it. Because odds are, sooner or later, they will.

Just going off the grid entirely is looking better and better for some folks these days. Maybe you could look into one of those new post-apocalypse shelters?


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I don’t have a Facebook account, Twitter, or anything like them. In fact, I don’t even have a cellphone, just a landline. Or satellite or cable, either, but that’s another story.

One of my cousins “friended” me on her Facebook account, and by the next morning my inbox was jammed with spam from all points of the compass. When I informed her of this, she “defriended” me (whatever that means), but it was six months before the spam tide dropped back to its usual level. That being the usual Yahoo level, I might add.

Being retired, I don’t have to worry about job interviews. But I’m sort of wondering what kind of reaction I’d get from some interviewer who asked me about my Facebook account, only to find out that I have never bothered to get one.

cheers

eon

eon on March 25, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Bmore
not to be funny but, you seem overly paranoid over things Facebook, twitter ….. are you dangerous or just a bit more paranoid then me?

angrymike on March 25, 2012 at 1:30 PM

…I noticed that after I joined Facebook…when I would google or bing my name…a heck of a lot more stuff came up that was not there before…from 10-20 years ago. Letters to the editor, any time my name was mentioned in local government meetings, articles from news where my name was mentioned, etc.
(and Google just loves JugEars…so you don’t always get what you search for…Bing is better.)

KOOLAID2 on March 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM

I’ve heard of two instances where a friends employer demanded to be friended so they could see what’s on the employees FB account, but no asking for passwords. That’s tantamount to handing over your credit/debit card info to a drug addict.

There is a use for Facebook, my wife has been reintroduced to her old high school buddies after over 35 years and now maintains a relationship with some of them. Aside from the purely social aspect of not dialing a phone or composing an email I don’t see a use for FB.

I don’t buy anything from FB, I don’t click advertisements there (or here, sorry Hotair I just refuse to do it). All the pics I have on FB are friends only, I don’t post anything that can be used against me in a court of law, and I hate drama. Needless to say, I’m not much of a FB user.

However, if an employer, government employee, or anyone else in a position of authority were to demand my password I certainly WOULD sue the crap out of them just to make their life a little less cheery.

Wolfmoon on March 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM

If a perspective employer did this to me, I would decline… then point out that what they are attempting to do is commit identity theft, and I would hate to have to turn them into the police for engaging in illegal activity. And did I pass their ethics interview question? :)

dominigan on March 25, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Oh, and I would also point out that… would they really want to hire people that would willingly hand over account passwords to anyone that asked? What about the passwords to THEIR network? …or to THEIR production database?

dominigan on March 25, 2012 at 2:10 PM

The ACLU is working on this issue. Last month, it went public with the story of a Maryland Correctional Dept. employee who was required to disclose his password during the recertification process after returning from a leave of absence.
http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/want-job-password-please

After the story went viral, the Corrections Dept. first issued a statement saying that employees were asked for their passwords, but not required to give them up — if they refused, they would not be fired. (Of course, they don’t say how the employee was supposed to know this. In these days of precarious employment, most probably gave up the password rather than make a stink at the interview.) As the buzz about the story contined to grow, the Department has decided to “suspend” the policy.
http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/want-job-password-please

cam2 on March 25, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Existing laws that prevent employers from asking potential employees their political or religious beliefs should be enough to make this practice illegal since that information would be right there for them to see in most cases.

If I was asked to give that information in an interview I’d have two responses. The first would be to say that I need that request in writing. The second would be that I assume it’s an intelligence test because nobody with any brains would hand over that information.

The only reason for the first response is so I have evidence for my future lawsuit.

Benaiah on March 25, 2012 at 2:20 PM

I’ve been a LEO for over 25 years. I have the advantage of having been in the know, to one degree or another, for a long time. Since before desktop home computers were as common as home television sets, laptops didn’t even exist for public consumption, and we were still writing reports by hand or banging them out on typewriters and using carbon paper because copy machines were humongous and very expensive. One of the things we all learn(ed) early on in our careers after the training and the practical use of all manners of information gathering and dissemination is… live off the grid as much as is possible.

Oh yes indeed — Big Brother/Sister is truly watching you. They have been since day one.

No one in my family has ever subscribed to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other ‘social networking’ applications. My non-LEO friends were warned as much as I would be permitted to do so. Some of them thought I was a crank for doing so too. Jokingly, they would even elude to me being paranoid about it and we’d laugh. I laughed with them then, and I still laugh, but they’re not laughing now. Mine is the last laugh. Ha. I knew.

There is no such thing as ‘online privacy’, and there hasn’t been since inception of the public ‘internet’. I can’t even hazard a guess and be anywhere near accurate as to how many criminals, sociopaths, and predators of vulnerable people I/we have arrested and successfully prosecuted where their MySpace, AOL, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube account, or some other social application account was the lynchpin of their demise much less giving a criminal and/or civil case against them legs. A simple boilerplate warrant application and a Judge willing to sign it is all that is needed. And believe me, ‘Judge shopping’ is not uncommon. If one happens to say “No”, there are dozens more who won’t.

Many an applicant for LEO and other governmental positions has been disqualified from being hired because of something found on one or more of their ‘social networking’ accounts during their background investigation. Something small and innocuous to them at one time was later the bane of their existence. Things they thought that were ‘deleted’ and ‘scrubbed’ from existence years ago are all still right there and discoverable in digital space.

It is unbelievable how many people out there in the world open their entire lives, good and bad, to the interwebs. And not one iota of it is ‘private’ by any stretch of the imagination. Facebook, even for it being the monstrosity that it is, is not going to be able to sue every prospective employer in the country that demands a Facebook password during the background investigation process. Facebook’s funds are finite. They do not have the force of law on their side either. Prospective employers can ‘ask’ for anything they want to ‘ask’ for. Anything at all within the law (ie: can’t ask for sexual favors, etc). You can’t sue them for asking for a password. You can’t sue them for not hiring you because you wouldn’t give it up either. Even if you could prove it. They’ve violated no laws or civil code. They don’t exist, yet. It is up to the applicant to acquiesce or just walk away.

Or even better yet, if you really want to stay off the grid as much as you can outside of emailing, don’t use online social applications of any kind if at all possible.

FlatFoot on March 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM

this is just another building block. to all you drug warriors out there who thinks it would be ok to randomly drug test people ( no proable cause) or ok with (random soberity checkpoints) which the lead justice on the supreme bench said was a (minor inconveience) and admitted it was unconstitutional,well this is what you get. this country is chock full of communist and fascist, and yes some are amoungst us.these people will never stop tring to take people’s freedom away,but what do you do when you own side has people that beleive in supressing freedom’s they dont agree with.company’s have been giving a free pass to control the people. if your a government worker i beleive your protected by the 4th admendment,but if you work for private companies they have different standards.people standing by and saying its ok to surpress what this person does in his free time has directly lead to companies trying to pry in this area. why not? their aloud to pry in other areas? the got the country beleiving (after 30 years) that drug testing was for the good,now its time to start laying more blocks. once again, thanks drug warrior’s!!

svs22422 on March 25, 2012 at 2:26 PM

I believe in having several “throw down” Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc., accounts. You never can tell when it will come in handy.

It also works with unregistered weapons when you have to pop a cap in some criminal racial minority while keeping the neighborhood safe until the witnesses come forward and clear your good name.

Roy Rogers on March 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM

On Facebook “Friends” the only one’s left who are posting regularly are the same people screaming out in search of crowd to say, “Look at me, I am important, yes, I really am, read about my normal life, look at my photos, I am important!”.

I have a niece (married, 2 kids)who spent a week on Facebook documenting how she fell off her bicycle and scratched her elbow. She tried to make it sound like it was the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest after losing both legs or battling & winning on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day with 15 body wounds…“Look at me! I am important!”

And those that have post after post of witty, clever sayings that they just copied and pasted, but are trying to imply that they are witty and clever, too…arggghhhh!

albill on March 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM

You have described my BIL and his wife. I swear they give a play by play of their entire day. They have been married 8 (?) years and recently told everyone that it was the anniversary of their first DATE back in high school. Then the posts about 5 days till my birthday, 4 days till my birthday, 3 days till my birthday. Arrrghhhhh.

To me FB is a tool to keep in touch with out of state family (my mom, brother, aunt, cousins) and a few friends from back home. We all occasionally get on and see each others updates and whatnot. But the appeal is gone in a lot of ways. The attention hogs definitely overtook FB. :)

JennM111 on March 25, 2012 at 3:03 PM

KOOLAID2
except for my early years, when every cop in three city knew my name, I went underground. I am proud to say I only know 2 or 3 cops, and on friendly terms, so I don’t worry much. If they come now that’s their problem, hehe, so I really don’t care. If they come for my guns they won’t be happy about my attitude. ;-)

angrymike on March 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

I have never put my life online. I have never joined Facebook or myspace or any social networking website and I never will. Now, I can’t get a job unless I have this stupid thing?

Dollayo on March 25, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Employers could get around this so easily with a bit of imagination and (horror of horrors) using the FB rules and tools that already exist.

1. Don’t allow a resume upload unless the applicant has clicked the ‘Login with Facebook’ button on the employer web site.

2. Once that ‘Login with Facebook’ button is clicked, your local API can request all kinds of info on the person who just joined including contact information and a list of friends.

3. If you follow the rules (and pay a good programmer) you get everything you want, comply with AUPs, and can put all that great information in your database before the applicant even uploads his/her resume.

You could even publicly publish a little thermometer showing how far/successful the person’s job application with your firm is going so far…

Then there are no ‘uncomfortable little requests’ in the interview.

Just happiness and light and more data to waste your time wading thru than you ever imagined. Then you’ll have to hire a data mining engineer to make sense of it all for you…

Great economic development policy, great jobs program….

ElRonaldo on March 25, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Why not just tell your employer you don’t have a Twitter account or FB page, or Pinterest, or whathaveyou? Don’t use a photo, and don’t display revealing information and they’ll never know. If you have to have those things in the first place, that is. I don’t have any of that stuff, and I never really understood people who felt the need to make a display of their personal lives. Seems so needy and insecure and attention-seeking. Weird.

Carolina21 on March 25, 2012 at 4:07 PM

I don’t have a Facebook account, Twitter, or anything like them. In fact, I don’t even have a cellphone, just a landline. Or satellite or cable, either, but that’s another story.
One of my cousins “friended” me on her Facebook account, and by the next morning my inbox was jammed with spam from all points of the compass. When I informed her of this, she “defriended” me (whatever that means), but it was six months before the spam tide dropped back to its usual level. That being the usual Yahoo level, I might add.
Being retired, I don’t have to worry about job interviews. But I’m sort of wondering what kind of reaction I’d get from some interviewer who asked me about my Facebook account, only to find out that I have never bothered to get one.
cheers
eon
eon on March 25, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I don’t understand. If you’ve never bothered to get a FB account, how could anyone “friend” or “defriend” you?

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Why is it that whenever there is an article about a TV show or facebook etc, there is always the few posters who feel the need to proudly proclaim they don’t watch TV or don’t have a facebook account etc? They all have this holier than thou attitude. Ya know, not watching TV or partaking in social media doesn’t make you cooler or smarter than everyone else like you think it does. Usually, most people look at you like some anti-social loner who sits in the dark twirling your thumbs cause no one’s ever loved you.

The Notorious G.O.P on March 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Why is it that whenever there is an article about a TV show or facebook etc, there is always the few posters who feel the need to proudly proclaim they don’t watch TV or don’t have a facebook account etc? They all have this holier than thou attitude. Ya know, not watching TV or partaking in social media doesn’t make you cooler or smarter than everyone else like you think it does.
Usually, most people look at you like some anti-social loner who sits in the dark twirling your thumbs cause no one’s ever loved you.
The Notorious G.O.P on March 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM

You’re trying to make your case with apples and oranges there. TV is passive, requires no interaction (other than on/off, volume, etc.), nor does TV involved turning over personal your info.
As far as being an “anti-social” loner if a person isn’t spending his time online on some “social network” – real life makes a fine alternative, being the real social network.

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 5:50 PM

When you interview for a job, you are interviewing THEM as much as they are interviewing you. If a potential employer wanted my FB password, I would politely refuse to answer the question and end the interview as soon as possible because that would be a serious red flag that I don’t want to work for that employer.

bitsy on March 25, 2012 at 5:54 PM

The only FB account I have is semi-anonymous. It has no connection to my identity, and would be of no interest to my employer. Its only use is in connection with a couple of forum-related groups whose interaction I appreciate. I block all games and apps that share information, and only involve myself with the primary topics of discussion. I haven’t the slightest interest in knowing that so-and-so’s pet poodle couldn’t make #2 on her morning walk, and that’s about the most valid thing I hear from folks chattering with each other about “status updates”.

Freelancer on March 25, 2012 at 5:57 PM

If a potential employer wanted my FB password, I would politely refuse to answer the question and end the interview as soon as possible because that would be a serious red flag that I don’t want to work for that employer.
bitsy on March 25, 2012 at 5:54 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if more interviewees surreptitiously recorded job interviews since things like the FB-password demand may be deemed illegal as the laws catch up with the tech.

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 6:06 PM

I don’t understand. If you’ve never bothered to get a FB account, how could anyone “friend” or “defriend” you?

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

As I said, my cousin “friended” me on her Facebook account, and sent me an email informing me of the fact. It arrived fractionally ahead of the first spam salvo resulting from same.

BTW, a month after that, she tried to terminate her FB account, with a notable lack of success.

I’d never been interested in any of the “social networking” systems before that. Afterward, I was even less interested. Posting here, or at PJM, is about as “networked” as I ever want to be.

cheers

eon

eon on March 25, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Actually, Jazz, you’re on the wrong side of things, again. Yes, posting things on the internet is always a risk, because the internet is forever.

But, I applaud Facebook for making it a violation of their ToS. If said employer is on Facebook, and has been asking potential employees for their account information, then Facebook will shut them down. Good for them! That’s actually standing up for your users.

There is no valid reason to ask me that in an interview or on an application. Even asking for my online aliases is simply not kosher. Any company that did so in an interview with me would immediately find the interview at an end. And, would probably find some sort of internet posting shortly thereafter calling them out on it. Of course, that would be public – no passwords or ‘friending’ needed.

GWB on March 25, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I don’t understand. If you’ve never bothered to get a FB account, how could anyone “friend” or “defriend” you?
whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

As I said, my cousin “friended” me on her Facebook account, and sent me an email informing me of the fact. It arrived fractionally ahead of the first spam salvo resulting from same.
BTW, a month after that, she tried to terminate her FB account, with a notable lack of success.
I’d never been interested in any of the “social networking” systems before that. Afterward, I was even less interested. Posting here, or at PJM, is about as “networked” as I ever want to be.
cheers
eon
eon on March 25, 2012 at 6:27 PM

I’m guessing you’re probably not familiar with how FB works – more specifically, the FB terminology?
What it sounds like is that she posted some info about you on her FB page (name, email, etc) – a very stupid thing to do, but that’s different from “friending” someone. Only a person who has an active FB acct can be friended/unfriended.
Posting somebody’s email info online anywhere, including FB, is a wide open invitation to the entire world to send spam.
But you’re correct, FB is a major PITA when it come to privacy. It’s a world-sized smorgasbord for stalkers, criminals, psychos of all types and assorted internet low-lifes.

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

But, I applaud Facebook for making it a violation of their ToS. If said employer is on Facebook, and has been asking potential employees for their account information, then Facebook will shut them down. Good for them! That’s actually standing up for your users.
GWB on March 25, 2012 at 6:44 PM

FB is more known for shafting it’s users – royally. But an interesting question on your point, I wonder if individual FB users who, as part of their job, attempt to get a password from an applicant be booted off FB for violating FB’s TOS?

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 6:50 PM

svs22422 on March 25, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Hands svs a paper lunch sack.
“Now, breathe in, hold it, breathe out…… breathe in, breathe out…… breathe in, breathe out…… Feeling better now?”

GWB on March 25, 2012 at 6:52 PM

svs22422 on March 25, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Have another toke, and then enroll in an online English class.

chewmeister on March 25, 2012 at 6:56 PM

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Perhaps the ‘friend’ opened their contact info to the public? Wasn’t there a problem with that in the recent past (when they linked it all)?

GWB on March 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

svs22422 on March 25, 2012 at 2:26 PM

There is a massive difference between checking for illegal drug use and sobriety check points and getting access to my private life.

Drug and alcohol abuse affects more than just an individual. In regards to drug testing, it eliminates potential dangers in the workplace. The sobriety check points helps get drunk drivers off the road (and catches other criminals as well, such as those with outstanding warrants… if only they would use it to enforce immigration as well).

Facebook access is an invasion of privacy not only of you but all your friends and their friends as well.

Wolftech on March 25, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Only a person who has an active FB acct can be friended/unfriended.
……

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

FYI, a few times I have received notifications from FB that a FB user I know wants to send me photos or something that is only allowed between members or friends, and FB invites me to join.

This seems to mean the FB user has given FB my email, so FB could be selling it to spammers.

Whether or not what was happening was they were actually trying to friend me is a technicality non-FB users are likely to be unaware of/not care about.

fadetogray on March 25, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Handing over your password violates the privacy of those on your Friends list. Their Friends only content is now visible to someone they did not intend to see it. Anyone who hands over their password is a bad friend.

Why not hand over your passwords for your email accounts? Other people’s private content is in there, too, and you’ve already handed over FB private msgs.

tuffy on March 25, 2012 at 7:11 PM

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Perhaps the ‘friend’ opened their contact info to the public? Wasn’t there a problem with that in the recent past (when they linked it all)?
GWB on March 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

That could be. So few people even bother with even the laughable, limited FB “Privacy Controls” that they don’t know they’re broadcasting info to over half a billion people.

I think a FB-like way to connect for intelligent people who take online privacy serious would do quite well in the online marketplace. As it is, FB is designed for the pre-teen/teen market.

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 7:13 PM

While not Friending a non-FB User, there is a way to contact non-users via FB which can be interpreted as Friending by the clueless. Essentially, it’s an invitation to FB and it will continue to spam you for years. I have several email accounts. I would like to thank my idiotic acquaintances for making this scenario possible.

tuffy on March 25, 2012 at 7:15 PM

Perhaps the ‘friend’ opened their contact info to the public? Wasn’t there a problem with that in the recent past (when they linked it all)?
GWB on March 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Oh, yeah, to be more precise – you can exercise some control over what you share with whom, but if your FB friends don’t control their own with as much thoroughness, you’re up the proverbial creek for privacy.

whatcat on March 25, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Simple translation; WAAAAAAA!!!, I want my cake and eat it too.

NapaConservative on March 25, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Simple translation; The statement is simple but no such translation is possible.

Sailfish on March 25, 2012 at 9:31 PM

I would answer a potential employer regarding my Facebook password quite simply;

“you cannot have my facebook password for the same reason I will not let you search my Garage, Bedroom and/or Library. It is a violation of my privacy and if you feel it essential to violate my privacy then I cannot in good conscience work for you!”

jaydee_007 on March 25, 2012 at 11:30 PM

Hear that? That’s the sound of the servers straining to accommodate everyone creating a fake double-account for employer viewing.

Ukiah on March 26, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Why is it that whenever there is an article about a TV show or facebook etc, there is always the few posters who feel the need to proudly proclaim they don’t watch TV or don’t have a facebook account etc? They all have this holier than thou attitude. Ya know, not watching TV or partaking in social media doesn’t make you cooler or smarter than everyone else like you think it does. Usually, most people look at you like some anti-social loner who sits in the dark twirling your thumbs cause no one’s ever loved you.

The Notorious G.O.P on March 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I’m one of those. Oh, we watch plenty of videos and we do watch tv, but true tv watching is a rare event and other than my blog – which isn’t a “personal” blog – we don’t do social media.

Now, were I still single, I’d be the semi-anti-social loner I was already, and yet I’d probably have a number of social media accounts – though still personally regulated as to how much I say about myself.

I’m married with four kids, so if someone wants to think I’m an anti-social loner who sits twiddling thumbs feeling unloved, I don’t care. I’m not online to make friends per se. And, bringing it back to the job market; I don’t get a job to make friends but to make money. If the company is going to play games with me, I’ll keep looking for another company. I’ll scrub toilets with my toothbrush if that’s all I can find and I need the money, but I will not give up my privacy willingly and no company can take away my personal dignity, unless I allow them to do so, even if I’m given menial work.

Logus on March 26, 2012 at 8:54 AM

I will never understood why anyone would want to make life easier for identity thieves, hackers, and other crooks.

I would never be on Facebook for any reason.

There are secure ways to share information which NEEDS to be shared. Would you post a sign in your front yard containing the names, ages, pictures, and other personal info of all the members of your family?

landlines on March 26, 2012 at 10:52 AM

It always cracks me up. Facebook is this generation’s “That Elvis is devil music” for their parents. While I certainly understand that there are tradeoffs and that online there is no real “privacy”…I find that for those of us that have friends out of state/out of country, FB fills a way to share the portions of our lives that we want. There are ways to keep the evil people out mostly, but FB is harmless if you use some common sense. Just understand that YOU are the product they are selling and act accordingly. But it makes me laugh listening to the older generation talk about how they don’t understand what those whippersnappers do with Al Gore’s internet device.

search4truth on March 26, 2012 at 2:28 PM

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