Don't ask for passwords: FB to employers

Facebook and lawmakers have warned employers against requesting Facebook passwords while screening job applicants, a controversial practice that underscores the blurring distinction between personal and professional lives in the era of social media.

The practice has reportedly grown more commonplace as companies increasingly regard profiles—or embarrassing photos from wild nights out—as windows into a prospective employee's character. On Friday, Facebook Inc’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan posted a note warning that the social networking company could “initiate legal action” against employers that demand Facebook passwords.

Also, lawmakers in several states and in Washington said they would introduce bills to prohibit companies from vetting employees by demanding access to private accounts.

Leland Yee, a California state senator, told Reuters on Friday he introduced legislation that would prohibit companies in the state from soliciting Facebook passwords from job applicants. The Associated Press reported that lawmakers in Illinois and Maryland were also considering similar moves.

“Employers can't ask in the course of an interview your sexual orientation, your age, and yet social media accounts may have that information,” Yee said.  “Employers have legitimate questions about a person’s job performance, but they can get that information the regular way, without cutting corners and violating people’s privacy.”

Egan said in a post on Facebook’s website published on Friday that the social networking company has seen in recent months “a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles. But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating.

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