As the Washington Post recently reported, employers have started demanding that employees (and potential employees) turn over their Facebook passwords. Recently, according to Ars Technica, a teacher’s aid was suspended for failing to turn over her Facebook login information after a parent complained about a posted photograph. Facebook has instructed users not to turn over their passwords, and has stated that it may take legal action against companies that require employees to provide this information. Facebook has made clear that requiring this information (and logging in as someone else) is a violation of their terms of service, which tells users that they must not “solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.” As was pointed out in a recent episode of This Week in Law, it would be imprudent for any company which values its online presence to ignore Facebook’s terms of service.
It is unclear if there will be any legal consequences for companies which demand employees’ passwords. According to the New York Times, “Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said they were calling on the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to begin investigations” on the grounds that “[p]ersonal information such as gender, race, religion and age are often displayed on a Facebook profile — all details that are protected by federal employment law.” The House of Representatives recently rejected a proposed amendment to a bill which would have explicitly granted the FCC the authority to prevent employers from demanding “confidential passwords to social networking websites.”
Image: CC BY-SA 2.0 / massimobarbieri