Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Companies Demand Facebook Passwords!

"We're watching you"
One of the nice things about being a blogger or frequent blog commenter is that you get the opportunity to build an online persona and interact with people literally all over the world. This online persona may be close to your "real life" personality or it may be 180 degrees apart. You may decide to be totally and completely transparent with readers and co-bloggers or you may hold on fiercely to your "secret" or "online identity" and associated privacy.
Now imagine if a would be employer did an online search for you and found your Facebook page. They looked at the public views and didn't find anything objectionable: no racist jokes and calls for bloody revolution, no fond memories (and pictures) of Copenhagen orgies, no five star reviews of Tijuana brothels. You're good to go right? Not so fast. Let's say that the would be employer is not convinced that you're not hiding something. After all EVERYONE is hiding something. And this employer is a watchful, distrustful sort.

So the interviewer politely asks you for your various and sundry passwords from your Facebook/disqus/yahoo/gmail/hushmail/google/linkedin/amazon/etc accounts so that they can log on as you and review all of your private pages, emails, instant messages, associates, and what you've been viewing, reading or watching in your personal time.  
  • After all, you might be a terrorist or worse, an ACLU member. 
  • You might have friends of friends who said something negative about the company two years ago. 
  • You might belong to "problematic" political or cultural groups.
  • Maybe you've sent naughty instant messages to your spouse, significant other or friend with benefits. 
  • You may have neglected to mention certain medical conditions you have.
  • Maybe you got a thang going on with Mrs. Jones.
Like I said, EVERYONE is hiding something. But if you're NOT hiding anything then of course you won't mind the company looking, right? RIGHT????
SEATTLE (AP) — When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password. Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn't see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information..
Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn't want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. But as the job market steadily improves, other job candidates are confronting the same question from prospective employers, and some of them cannot afford to say no...
Back in 2010, Robert Collins was returning to his job as a security guard at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services after taking a leave following his mother's death. During a reinstatement interview, he was asked for his login and password, purportedly so the agency could check for any gang affiliations. He was stunned by the request but complied.
"I needed my job to feed my family. I had to," he recalled,
After the ACLU complained about the practice, the agency amended its policy, asking instead for job applicants to log in during interviews.

Robert Collins
I think this is just a sad state of affairs. As so many people have been apathetic or quiet about the government invading their privacy without cause whether it be NYPD/FBI spying, FISA or Patriot Act or TSA searches, it only makes sense that companies would want to get in on the act.
I can't imagine working for a company that would even have the nerve to ask me something like this. The answer would be no. I would end the interview.  Of course I'm not currently desperate for a job and I matured before online personas had become so ubiquitous. What would I do were I younger or if I needed to get some money pretty doggone quickly to avoid eviction or repossession? I would still stand on principle and tell them to attempt airborne copulation with a revolving pastry. I've got to be free. But that's just me. How about you? You may need to think about this.

And the sign said "Long-haired freaky people need not apply 
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why  
He said "You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do"  
So I took off my hat, I said "Imagine that. Huh! Me workin' for you!"   
1) Would you agree to give a company passwords to your Facebook, emails, blogs, etc?
2) Should this be illegal?
3) Do you think a company would ever have any valid reason to ask for this information?
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