29/03/2012 13:09 BST

Would You Hand Your Facebook Password To Your Boss?

Would you hand your Facebook password over to a boss or potential employer? With unemployment at its highest for 17 years in the UK, desperate job applicants are being asked to hand over Facebook passwords, or "friend" people within the company they hope to work for.

A man from the Midlands who works in online retail told The Telegraph that his managing director asked for his Facebook login details, after the MD could not find him in a Facebook search.

Other examples of bosses asking for Facebook passwords come from the US, including Robert Collins, a Maryland corrections officer, who was asked to provide his Facebook username and password to his boss and did so because, as he told the Associated Press: "I needed my job to feed my family. I had to."

But a proposed amendment to protect Facebook users from the invasion of privacy has been rejected by Republicans in the US House of Representatives.

Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who proposed the amendment said to the house: "People have an expectation of privacy when using social media like Facebook and Twitter. They have an expectation that their right to free speech and religion will be respected when they use social media outlets."

Erin Egan, head of security at Facebook says the practice breaks the social media network's conditions, writing on her blog on the site: "As a user, you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job. And 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. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password."

Read Write Web plays the devil's advocate, saying there are cases for handing over your Facebook password if your job involves using social media, if you have misused social media or if there are national security or public-safety implications around your social media use.

An HR professional at a large London-based company that we contacted, said that asking for Facebook passwords is plain wrong. "It's just morally and ethically wrong, plus it makes for an awful start to a working relationship. Most recruiters look at your social media activity to get some broad background on you, but there is such as thing as a work life balance. What you do in your own private time is up to you, and we have no interest in knowing what that is."

Have you ever been asked to provide your Facebook or other social media passwords by an employer? Let us know in comments below.