As strange as it may sound, the practice has been going on for a while now and earlier in the month it was reported that US government agencies and colleges were demanding applicants hand over their password for their account. Obviously you could say no, but I doubt that would have done you any favours should you have wanted to progress further in the application process.
And now, as the problem seems to be growing, Facebook has released a statement on the matter declaring that the social networking site may take legal action against any company or college which attempts to obtain this information. The company believes that users shouldn’t be forced to share private information in order to get a job or a place at college, and also pointed out that sharing or the solicitation of a password is against Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
In the statement, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan highlights the risks for employers who request this information by saying “Employers also may not have the proper policies and training for reviewers to handle private information. If they don’t—and actually, even if they do–the employer may assume liability for the protection of the information they have seen or for knowing what responsibilities may arise based on different types of information (e.g. if the information suggests the commission of a crime).”
After receiving many privacy concerns in the past, Facebook seem to be taking a much more pro-active approach in protecting the privacy and security of its users. If you’re interested in checking out the statement in full, details can be found over at Facebook’s privacy page.