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Facebook says sharing passwords may violate privacy policy

Screening candidates based on the original content displayed on Facebook or other social media networks is a common concern of jobseekers around the world.

But in recent weeks the practise has taken centre stage amid reports employers are now asking for user passwords in order to assess future employees.

A story by the Associated Press, which spoke to jobseekers who felt they were being discriminated against based on their social media profiles, has prompted online organisations to speak out against the action.

Facebook has cautioned companies against asking job applicants for login and password details, saying it violates the site's privacy policy.

In a post on Friday (March 23), the organisation informed recruiters of the legal ramifications of forcing job candidates to share access to personal accounts.

Facebook's chief privacy of policy officer, Erin Egan, made it clear that companies could be accused of unfairly discriminating against potential employees if they adopted these practices.

"As a user you shouldn't be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job," wrote Egan.

"And as a friend of a user, you shouldn't have to worry that your private information or communications will be revealed to someone you don't know and didn't intend to share with just because that user is looking for a job."

Describing the employment practice as "distressing", Facebook went to great lengths to reassure users that the social network does not condone the action of some employers in the US.

The company is not planning to initiate legal action against organisations that undermine its privacy policy at this point in time, according to Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes.

"While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policymakers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users," he said.

Posted by Aimee McBride