ACLU blasts employers who demand workers' Facebook passwords

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized employers who ask for job candidates' Facebook passwords after The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the practice is becoming more widespread.

It is not unusual for employers to check job candidates' publicly available information on social media sites for embarrassing or damaging information, but according to the AP's report, some are now demanding that applicants provide passwords to unlock their private accounts.

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Applicants told the AP they felt they had to hand over their password or they would lose their chance at getting the job.

"Companies that don't ask for passwords have taken other steps — such as asking applicants to friend human resource managers or to log in to a company computer during an interview," the AP reported. "Once employed, some workers have been required to sign non-disparagement agreements that ban them from talking negatively about an employer on social media."

ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said the practice is an invasion of privacy. 

"People are entitled to their private lives," she said in a blog post. "You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account."