Thursday, April 5, 2012

Your Facebook Password

I've been kind of avoiding the whole "employers asking for Facebook passwords" issue that's been going around, mostly because I believed it will blow over fairly quickly. Even when Facebook itself joined the fray, I didn't give it too much thought. (For the record, I would walk out of an interview if I were asked for my password; that's not the kind of environment I would be willing to work in.) I figured some employers would realize how much horrible press this kind of thing would get them, and stop, and others wouldn't care, and in return they would get the kind of employees willing or desperate enough to share private information.

However, I got into a short discussion with someone yesterday about the issue, and I realized it is potentially a very unique and interesting situation. Obviously, Facebook doesn't have to get involved - it's not technically the company's problem if a third party asks for your password and you give it to them. But instead, it jumped right in, leaving everyone slightly startled and kind of wondering about its motives. I mean, it's not like Facebook has a history of caring very much about its users' opinions, especially when it comes to privacy. So why take a stand now?

The difference is that when Facebook gives your information away, it makes money. When you are forced to give it to someone else, it loses money. Because that means you might spend less time on Facebook, might be less honest on the site, or possibly leave entirely. And all of those things are bad for Facebook's advertisers.

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