Petitions Circulating On Facebook Passwords, Board

By David Cohen Comment

Facebook was the subject of two petitions that were circulating this week: one positive (against employers asking for the passwords of workers or potential employees), and one negative (demanding that the company add at least one woman to its board of directors).

Hillicon Valley, The Hill‘s technology blog, reported that some 55,000 people have signed a petition being circulated by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which urges the Department of Justice to investigate whether requesting the Facebook password of employees or applicants is illegal.

Facebook itself has urged its users to never surrender their passwords in a statement from Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan.

Conor Kennedy, senior associate with P Street, the lobbying arm of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told Hillicon Valley the 55,000 petition signers “are sending a clear message to Washington: Americans should not have to choose between jobs and their privacy,” and he added in a statement:

As more and more Americans stand with them and sign this petition, we will work with congressional leaders, like Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), to investigate and hold employers responsible for any violation of employees’ privacy rights on social networks.

And Blumenthal, who has been an advocate for the issue, told Hillicon Valley:

I’m amazed that 50,000 Americans have already signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s petition at, fighting against abusive practices that compel people to choose between jobs and privacy. There is no excuse for employers to violate employees’ basic privacy rights on social networks, and as this petition continues to grow, I will use it to urge action on this issue.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s all-male board of directors was the target of Ultraviolet, which describes itself as “a new women’s group fighting to expand women’s rights and combat sexism everywhere.”

Ultraviolet is pressuring Facebook to add at least one woman to its board of directors prior to its initial public offering, saying that the majority of the social network’s users, 58 percent, are women. Co-Founder Nita Chaudhary said:

The fact that a company as large as Facebook with a massive global reach does not have a single woman on its board is nothing short of shameful. Facebook owes it success to and makes a ton of money off of its women users. Women are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the sharing that happens on the site. In addition, women account for more than 70 percent of daily fan activity on the site, which is a huge source of revenue for the company. Facebook has a problem, and it needs to solve it before it goes public. Mark Zuckerberg should live up to his company’s mission statement and appoint at least one woman to the board today.

While Facebook’s board of directors may be all-male, its most visible and prominent executive after Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Zuckerberg is Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Readers: Would you consider signing either of these petitions?