Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

3/23/2012
01:38 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Facebook's Privacy Two-Step On Passwords, Employers

Facebook says sharing your password with a potential employer violates its rules. But will Facebook enforce this rule, when it still doesn't confirm user ages?

Is anyone surprised that it has come to this? Employers have started asking prospective employees for their Facebook passwords so they can learn what job applications won't tell them.

Facebook finds it distressing to hear about this and warns that the practice "undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends" and "potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability."

The company is urging Facebook users to resist such requests--easier said than done when refusal could mean a job offer denied--because password sharing represents a security risk and because sharing or soliciting passwords violates the company's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

If Facebook actually enforces its rules and takes legal action against nosy employers, it will be something of a shock, considering all people under 13 who have active Facebook accounts are in violation of Facebook rules.

Some 36% of more than 1,000 parents surveyed by Microsoft Research senior researcher Danah Boyd said their children joined Facebook before turning 13. And some 78% of parents think it is acceptable for their child to violate Facebook's rules. I can corroborate that research: My 12-year-old daughter complains she's the only one in her class who isn't on Facebook.

[ Read Job Seekers Asked For Facebook Passwords: Debate Roars. ]

When Facebook users routinely flout Facebook's rules, is it any wonder employers don't take those rules very seriously?

Facebook says it takes privacy very seriously. But it doesn't take privacy seriously enough to really enforce its rules--it would cost a lot to verify users' ages and it would mean fewer users and less ad revenue.

Facebook doesn't take privacy seriously enough not collect data in the first place. It doesn't take privacy seriously enough to protect your data from Facebook: Its business model is predicated on data.

Privacy is when you have your data. When someone else has your data, you no longer have privacy. You've given your privacy away. If Facebook wanted you to have privacy, it wouldn't have taken it in the first place.

To re-purpose the trite tagline from Field of Dreams, if you gather personal data, they will come. It you store it, they will review it, demand it, or steal it.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) says he'll introduce a federal bill to make it illegal for employers to demand Facebook passwords from job applicants. He's obviously never applied for a job with the CIA--if you think scouring Facebook accounts is invasive, try having an intelligence agency interview your associates over the years. You can have all the privacy you want, until someone has reason to look behind the veil.

A law would be better than Facebook's widely ignored and sparingly enforced rules. But it would be addressing the symptom--curiosity--rather than the disease--sharing. No law will prevent people from compromising their futures by posting stupid or potentially embarrassing or socially damaging things online. The "post" button, like a diamond, is forever.

What we really need are repeated lessons to say nothing. Designating Facebook information as "private" won't actually guarantee it remains private.

While a handful of employers may have been clumsy enough to publicly declare their intent to pry, many more businesses and individuals are discreetly googling away and finding out all sorts of things about job applicants, prospective tenants, would-be clients and loan-seekers, potential dates and roommates, next-door neighbors, and next-desk colleagues. And they may not share what they've discovered about your sharing. They'll simply, silently deny you.

If you take your privacy very seriously, watch what you say online, because declarations from others about how seriously they take your privacy won't save you.

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference brings together industry thought leaders to explore the latest innovations in enterprise social software, analytics, and big data tools and technologies. Learn how your business can harness these tools to improve internal business processes and create operational efficiencies. It happens in Boston, June 18-21. Register today!

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
9 Tips to Prepare for the Future of Cloud & Network Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/28/2020
Vulnerability Disclosure Programs See Signups & Payouts Surge
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15216
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-29
In goxmldsig (XML Digital Signatures implemented in pure Go) before version 1.1.0, with a carefully crafted XML file, an attacker can completely bypass signature validation and pass off an altered file as a signed one. A patch is available, all users of goxmldsig should upgrade to at least revisio...
CVE-2020-4607
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-29
IBM Security Secret Server (IBM Security Verify Privilege Vault Remote 1.2 ) could allow a local user to bypass security restrictions due to improper input validation. IBM X-Force ID: 184884.
CVE-2020-24565
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-29
An out-of-bounds read information disclosure vulnerabilities in Trend Micro Apex One may allow a local attacker to disclose sensitive information to an unprivileged account on vulnerable installations of the product. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute low-privileged code on the ...
CVE-2020-25770
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-29
An out-of-bounds read information disclosure vulnerabilities in Trend Micro Apex One may allow a local attacker to disclose sensitive information to an unprivileged account on vulnerable installations of the product. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute low-privileged code on the ...
CVE-2020-25771
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-29
An out-of-bounds read information disclosure vulnerabilities in Trend Micro Apex One may allow a local attacker to disclose sensitive information to an unprivileged account on vulnerable installations of the product. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute low-privileged code on the ...