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Image Credit - "hit miss or maybe", Sean MacEntee: flickr.com/photos/smemon

This an update to my early article “Want a Job? Give Me Your Password”. It seems that Facebook has stepped into the discussion and has gone on the defensive in favor of its users. First of all, it turns out that right in the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” (you know, that user agreement that you quickly clicked and said you read but never actually bother to look at) that Facebook already mandates that, “You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”

Image Credit - "Should I delete my Facebook", Sean MacEntee: flickr.com/photos/smemon

The important thing in this case is that “Terms of Service” contracts and “User Agreements” are legally enforceable, but they appear to occupy a legally murky area between contract law and things that the Department of Justice should be enforcing.  The reality is that, while Facebook says it’s plainly evident in their “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”, a statement that every user must agree to prior to using the site, it’s not likely to be something that’s going to land anyone in jail.  It’s simply an issue of volume and unless Facebook steps up their game, it’s something that is incumbent on the offended applicant to pursue.

Facebook not only has an existing policy which covers the controversial practice, but they also have an opinion. Facebook has posted their reaction to the brewhaha:

 If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends. We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.

- Facebook “Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy

Facebook goes on to provide a rather candid assessment of the potential impacts of employer mandated password sharing:

We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s right the thing to do. But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating. For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person.

- Facebook “Protecting Your Passwords and Your Privacy

Public sentiment has also swayed to the point that United States governmental officials are willing to intervene. Politico reports that Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is poised to propose federal legislation banning the practice of asking applicants to turn over their credentials.

The ACLU is also speaking out about employer Facebook stalking saying, “The ACLU believes that this is a gross violation of personal privacy because people are entitled to their private lives online just as they are offline.”

Fortunately, it appears as if the tides are quickly turning on this practice before they ever got started. It goes to show the power of social media in stimulating the debate and activating the parties appropriate to a cause.