First, under no circumstances should employers/potential employers ask for a Facebook password. I have absolutely no doubt that if an employer views an individual’s Facebook account it will learn things it shouldn’t know in regard to the hiring/firing process. And then, if the employer doesn’t hire the person, or seeks to terminate the person, the person can turn around and say, you only took that action because I – insert impermissible reason here.
Second, asking for someone else’s Facebook password is forcing that person to violate Facebook’s terms of service. Also, Facebook is taking a hard line on this issue. In no uncertain terms, Facebook has made it clear, employers are not to ask for Facebook passwords.
Third, when you ask for a person’s Facebook password you will not only learn information about that person. You will learn information about that person’s friends on Facebook. Those people may have sent private messages to the potential employee, or may simply provide access to posts and pictures on Facebook they wouldn’t have otherwise provided. So now you are violating random people’s privacy in your attempts to obtain information.
Fourth, why do you care? I can see caring about the public image that someone conveys. So look at the available information that any random person can see. I can maybe sort of see asking to friend the person on Facebook. But even that is a pretty slippery slope. As a side note, you still might want to have have a third party handle the screening for you, because you will learn impermissible information.
Fifth, how offensive is this? Really? In what kind of world do we reside where some employers think they should have access to the inside of someone’s personal accounts? Why don’t they just ask for the password to the employee/potential employee’s email account while they are at it? Heck, why don’t they just come on over and invite themselves to dinner? Spend the night maybe. Would the hiring officer like pancakes for breakfast?
Sixth, colleges asking for this information? You suck too.
Just because data is available doesn’t mean everyone has a right to it. Unless the legal system is involved due to a criminal or civil case, stay the heck out of other people’s Facebook accounts.