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Facebook softens its stand on bosses violating applicant privacy

March 23, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Social network website Facebook has around 850 million users worldwide.
Social network website Facebook has around 850 million users worldwide. (Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images )

It seemed Friday morning as if Facebook came out with guns blazing, aiming for employers who required applicants or employees to surrender their log-in information. Now there's a softening of that position, a clarification.

Privacy chief Erin Egan originally wrote, toward the end of her statement: "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."

A decidedly more conciliatory approach was just sent to me by a Facebook spokesperson. They went from "initiating legal action" to a "engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders."

Here's the statement: "We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s right the thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users."

The Justice Department had said during recent congressional testimony that while entering a social networking site in violation of the terms of service is considered a federal crime, it would not prosecute for such violations.

Earlier this week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) decried the vetting practice as an “unreasonable invasion of privacy for people seeking work” and vowed to write legislation to stop it.

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Facebook tells employers: Hands off our users' passwords

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