Facebook making the right noises on password privacy

Creepy employers take note: Facebook doesn't like you

Facebook has a message for creepy bosses who ask their workers for their Facebook passwords: You're icky, we don't like you, and we reserve the right to sue you.  Check out this note posted late last week by Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan:

In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.

The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidents of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords.  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. 

As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job.  And as the friend of a user, you shouldn’t have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don’t know and didn’t intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job.

[...]

Facebook takes your privacy seriously.  We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.

Good for Facebook.  Employers already have plenty of methods for determining if you're an irresposible drunk who never shows up to work.  Like, say, calling your past employers.  There's no reason to look through your private pictures or posts to see if you've done or said anything naughty over the past five years.  

And to any bosses who request to see users' passwords?  You're jerks.  Just knock it off.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in