It’s common knowledge that colleges, employers and potential dates are checking you out on Facebook and Twitter. In response, you’ve probably taken every opportunity to batten down the hatches from unwanted social media snooping by parents, coworkers, employers and your ex, painstakingly reading the fine print each time Facebook makes a privacy update. Last week, MSNBC reported that some colleges and employers, frustrated that they can no longer use public profiles on these sites to “stalk” their applicants, are actually requesting full access — even private pages — on social media sites so they can monitor every status update, tweet and embarrassing picture you post.
One employer, Maryland state’s Department of Corrections, doesn’t request the passwords anymore (the ACLU put a stop to that), but asks that the applicant log in to Facebook during the interview and click through the site while the interviewer watches. This is voluntary, but applicants are submitting to it for fear that not doing so would cost them the job.
Another group facing restrictions are student-athletes. Many colleges, like the University of North Carolina, request that a designated coach/administrator on each sports team has access to the athletes’ social networking page.
The reasoning behind these two examples is probably understandable: the employer doesn’t want to risk hiring anyone with gang affiliations, and the school wants to ensure their athletes are adhering to the student-athlete conduct code. But where is the line drawn when it comes to requesting access to an private and personal information? Is email access far behind? Or, as one attorney in the MSNBC article notes, will employers ask to “bug” our homes?
According to the article, Maryland has begun proposing laws prohibiting employers from asking for passwords; Illinois is considering similar legislation. However, the responsibility ultimately resides within each of us who use social media. Thanks to our Constitution, we all enjoy free speech. But we don’t need to say everything that pops into our heads or show pictures of every private moment. Even when using the highest privacy settings available, it’s important to use social media responsibly. Unless of course, you don’t mind your boss looking at your honeymoon pictures or girlfriend’s late night status updates…
What do you think?
Is it wrong for employers or prospective employers to request access to your personal social media pages?