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03/28/2012

Would you give an employer your Facebook info?

Nosy employers got a firm finger-wagging from Facebook last week, after the social media giant warned them not to ask for applicants' log-in details.

It turns out that some employers think it's perfectly ok to ask you for your Facebook username and password, so that they can check up on you. The rationale, presumably, is that your Facebook account reveals what you're really like. If you've published pictures of yourself naked and drunk on a toilet at a party, clutching a bong, they want to know.

Facebook has now told employers not to ask for applicants' log-in details, arguing that it is an invasion of privacy. "We don't think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don't think it's the right thing to do," said the firm's chief privacy officer Erin Egan on Friday, adding that it may also backfire on employers. They could open themselves up to discrimination claims if they become aware of personal information about a person by accessing their account, she said.

It also creates privacy problems for an applicant's friends. "As a user, you shouldn't be forced to share your private informatoin and communications just to get job. And as the friend of a user, you shouldn't have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone yo udon'tkn ow and didn't intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job," said Egan.

That's a good point. What would happen, for example, if an employer checked the Facebook account of a job applicant, only to find out personal information about a friend who already worked for that company?

The practice is becoming more common among some US employers. Some stop short of asking for passwords, but will ask appliants to log in during interviews. And reports suggest that some people can't afford to refuse, because they need the job.

Thankfully, in Canada, we are more protected thanks to our privacy laws. Employers do not have access to personal information here, say lawyers.

Would you reveal your Facebook information to a potential employer who asked for it, if you really wanted the job? 

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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