Are employers asking for Facebook passwords legal? If you haven’t been keeping up on recent debates, this is a hot topic in the past week.
Employers have been requesting from employees and potential hires that they surrender their Facebook passwords. Consequences for refusal have been suspension, firing, or no longer being considered for employment.
In fact, supplying anyone with your username and password violates the Facebook Terms of Service.
Facebook Terms of Service
4. Registration and Account Security
8.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.
If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you. We will notify you by email or at the next time you attempt to access your account. You may also delete your account or disable your application at any time. In all such cases, this Statement shall terminate, but the following provisions will still apply: 2.2, 2.4, 3-5, 8.2, 9.1-9.3, 9.9, 9.10, 9.13, 9.15, 9.18, 10.3, 11.2, 11.5, 11.6, 11.9, 11.12, 11.13, and 14-18.
Employers Asking For Facebook Passwords: The Legality
Despite the current focus of Internet debate regarding employers asking for Facebook passwords, Tort Law does not offer any specific protections.
Facebook’s Terms of Service is not legally binding.
There have been recent attempts to legislate on the legality of employers asking for Facebook passwords but currently no laws are in place.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Facebook can be used to circumvent the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) laws.
If you’ll recall, the laws that say we do not discriminate based on race, sex, religion, handicap, and sexual orientation. If an employer gains access to a user’s Facebook account, they will have this very personal information.
While it is illegal to ask about marriage status, kids, etc in an interview, Facebook has this information for all to see. Setting your information “private” is useless in this case.
Even though asking for Facebook credentials is not necessarily a policy decision made by the owner of a company, but a method coined by the HR team, a company would still be on the hook for it.
Currently, word is Facebook may go after employers asking for Facebook passwords.
Facebook has also specifically advised people do not give out your passwords to your accounts. You risk getting the user you requested the Facebook password from banned from Facebook. Revealing your password is a breach of trust and privacy.
The SMB Perspective
As a small business owner can you afford to run the risk of having Facebook seek legal action against your business?
The information that can be gained by accessing a Facebook profile is exactly the information banned by the EEOC laws. Therefore, the news is blowing up this week regarding employers asking for Facebook passwords.
In the end, asking for your employees’ or a potential employees’ Facebook password to access their confidential information is a bad idea. While there are no laws in place at the moment, it obviously violates the EEOC laws. The safe and ethical decision would be to not participate.
What is your opinion on employers asking for Facebook passwords? Share your opinions!