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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