Facebook has responded to recent claims that employers have been asking for the account passwords of prospective employees, saying the practice is distressing and alarming.

Some employers have recently been asking for the Facebook password of potential employees to perform a background check on the individual.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook has been criticised over privacy in the past, but this time it takes the high ground REUTERS

Chief privacy officer at Facebook, Erin Egan, said in a blog post: "In recent months, we've seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people's Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability."

This practice doesn't just lay bare the personal information, Timeline and photos of the user who has surrendered their password, but also compromises the privacy of all of their friends, as the potential employer can of course view their Timelines, too.

Egan called the practice alarming and asserts that Facebook users should never have to share their password or let someone else access their account, adding: "We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.

"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."

It is, in fact, a violation of Facebook's policy to share your account password with anyone.

Egan goes on to explain that this is not just a concern for the user, but also for the employer asking for passwords: "We don't think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don't think it's right the thing to do."

"But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating. For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don't hire that person."

Facebook's chief privacy officer signed off saying: "While we will continue to do our part, it is important that everyone on Facebook understands they have a right to keep their password to themselves, and we will do our best to protect that right."