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Facebook Discourages Businesses From Asking for User Passwords

FILE: In this file photo the Facebook Inc. logo is reflected in the eyeglasses of a user in this arranged photo in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. A Facebook IPO would provide funds to help the social-networking service maintain its expansion and fend off competition from Internet rivals such as Google Inc. and Twitter Inc. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc., the world’s biggest social-networking service, said reports of businesses asking potential employees for passwords are “alarming” and discouraged users and companies from engaging in the practice.

The company may ask policy makers to intercede or even take legal action, Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said on the company’s site today. That could include shutting down applications that abuse privileges, she said.

Facebook, which filed for an initial public offering last month, has come under growing scrutiny over the privacy of its users. Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that some companies and government agencies are asking potential job candidates for Facebook passwords, drawing a rebuke from the American Civil Liberties Union and now Facebook itself.

“As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” Egan said. “As the 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.”

The company already has made it a violation of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password, Egan said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at

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