Facebook users have faced a succession of privacy issues as that company evolves. But now, Facebook users may have another challenge: the organizations they want to work for.
According to a story by the Associated Press on Wednesday, some governmental agencies and companies are asking for Facebook user names and passwords as part of the job interview process, so they can check the applicant's private profile page. In one example, the news service cited a New York City statistician named Justin Bassett, who refused to provide the logon information during a job interview.
'An Invasion of Privacy'
In another case mentioned by AP, an African-American security guard with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services was asked for his logon information, during a reinstatement interview in 2010 when he returned from a leave of absence.
The interviewer told him the agency wanted to check for any possible gang affiliations. The guard, Robert Collins, turned over his user name and password, he said, because "I needed the job to feed my family."
Following a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union, the department changed its policy so that instead interviewees might be asked to log on to their private profiles during the interview.
Some organizations have said they were looking for possible illegal activity, inappropriate images, or inappropriate relationships with underage individuals.
In a statement, the ACLU said that asking for logons as a part of the interview process is "an invasion of privacy." It added that "you shouldn't have to choose between privacy and technology," because the "same standards of privacy that we expect offline in the real world should apply online in our digital lives as well."
This due diligence has led the city of Bozeman, Mont., for instance, to ask for logons not only for Facebook, but also for e-mail, other social-networking sites, and other accounts.
While doing an online check of an applicant has become common, such as public Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts, or LinkedIn profiles, asking for logon credentials is relatively new. Facebook is designed to limit your personal profile to your friends or other selected individuals in your network.
Privacy advocates have compared the practice to asking for someone's house keys, and laws have been proposed in Illinois and Maryland that would ban the practice by public agencies. The AP reported that asking for user names and passwords is more common among public agencies, especially ones involved in law enforcement.
Of course, there's an easier way to get access to someone's private Facebook profile -- become their "friend." The AP said some organizations that have not gone so far as to ask for user names and passwords have instead asked that a human resources employee, such as the interviewer, be friended.
Social media's power is also behind another trend among some companies. After a hire has been made, some companies require an employee to agree in writing not to make disparaging comments about the company via social media.
Posted: 2012-03-26 @ 11:09am PT
Posted: 2012-03-22 @ 1:01pm PT
The ACLU is full of it and as usual wants the nanny state to jump into the private market. A hiring company risks losing otherwise productive employees to other companies that don't ask for the logon. Let the market decide.