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Employers, colleges demand Facebook passwords

 

State agencies, colleges demand applicants' Facebook passwords

By Bob Sullivan

If you think privacy settings on your Facebook and Twitter accounts guarantee future employers or schools can't see your private posts, guess again.

Employers and colleges find the treasure-trove of personal information hiding behind password-protected accounts and privacy walls just too tempting, and increasingly, they are demanding full access from applicants and students.

In Maryland, job seekers applying to the state's Department of Corrections have been asked during interviews to log into their accounts and let an interviewer watch while the potential employee clicks through wall posts, friends, photos and anything else that might be found behind the privacy wall.


Previously, applicants were asked to surrender their user name and password, but a complaint from the ACLU stopped that practice last year. While submitting to a Facebook review is voluntary, virtually all applicants agree to it out of a desire to score well in the interview, according Maryland ACLU legislative director Melissa Coretz Goemann.

 

 

Student-athletes in colleges around the country also are finding out they can no longer maintain privacy in Facebook communications because schools are requiring them to "friend" a coach or compliance officer, giving that person access to their "friends-only" posts. Schools are also turning to social media monitoring companies with names like UDilligence and Varsity Monitor for software packages that automate the task. The programs offer a "reputation scoreboard" to coaches and send "threat level" warnings about individual athletes to compliance officers.

A recent revision in the handbook at the University of North Carolina is typical:

"Each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of team members' social networking sites and postings," it reads. "The athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes' posts."

All this scrutiny is too much for Bradley Shear, a Washington D.C.-lawyer who says both schools and employers are violating the First Amendment with demands for access to otherwise private social media content.

"I can't believe some people think it's OK to do this," he said. "Maybe it's OK if you live in a totalitarian regime, but we still have a Constitution to protect us. It's not a far leap from reading people's Facebook posts to reading their email. ... As a society, where are we going to draw the line?"

Aside from the free speech concerns, Shear also thinks colleges take on unnecessary liability when they aggressively monitor student posts.

"What if the University of Virginia had been monitoring accounts in the Yeardley Love case and missed signals that something was going to happen?" he said, referring to a notorious campus murder. "What about the liability the school might have?"

Shear has gotten the attention of Maryland state legislators, who have proposed two separate bills aimed at banning social media access by schools and potential employers. The ACLU is aggressively supporting the bills.

"This is an invasion of privacy. People have so much personal information on their pages now. A person can treat it almost like a diary," said Goemann, the Maryland ACLU legislative director. "And (interviewers and schools) are also invading other people's privacy. They get access to that individual's posts and all their friends. There is a lot of private information there."

Maryland's Department of Corrections policy first came to light last year, when corrections officer Robert Collins complained to the ACLU that he was forced to surrender his Facebook user name and password during an interview. The state agency suspended the policy for 45 days, and eventually settled on the "shoulder-surfing" substitute.

"My fellow officers and I should not have to allow the government to view our personal Facebook posts and those of our friends just to keep our jobs," Collins said to the ACLU at the time.

Agency spokesman Rick Binetti confirmed the new policy, but wouldn't comment on it or the proposed law which may ban it.

It's easy to see why an agency that hires prison guards would want to sneak a peek at potential employees' private online lives. Goemann said that prisons are trying to avoid hiring guards with potential gang ties -- the agency told the ACLU it had reviewed 2,689 applicants via social media, and denied employment to seven because of items found on their pages.

"All seven of these individuals' social media applications contained pictures of them showing verified gang signs (signs commonly known to law enforcement which are utilized by gangs)," the Department of Corrections told the ACLU in response to questions it asked about the program. It stressed the voluntary nature of social media inspection, noting that five of the 80 employees hired in the last three hiring cycles didn't provide access.

For student athletes, though, the access isn't voluntary. No access, no sports.

"They're saying to students if you want to play, you have to friend a coach. That's very troubling," said Shear, the D.C. lawyer. "A good analogy for this, in the offline world, would it be acceptable for schools to require athletes to bug their off-campus apartments? Does a school have a right to know who all your friends are?"

 

There have been many high-profile embarrassing moments born of the toxic combination of student-athletes and Twitter. North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin tweeted about expensive purchases on his account two years ago, then became subject of an NCAA investigation about improper conduct with a player agent. The incident led, in part, to the school's aforementioned aggressive social media policy.

So it's not surprising that many schools want to keep a careful eye on what students are posting online.

But avoiding an uncomfortable moment is not a good enough reason to squash free speech, Spear says. Plenty of settled case law in the U.S. sides with students' rights to express themselves publicly, he said, including numerous cases involving student newspapers. Public displays of protest are also protected: A landmark 1969 Supreme Court decisions known as Tinker vs. the Des Moines School District said school officials couldn't prevent students from wearing armbands protesting the Vietnam War as long as they weren't inciting violence.

Colleges have legitimate concerns about the things students post on social media accounts, but they should "deal with that issue the way they deal with everything else. They should educate," Shear said.

"Schools are in the business of educating, not spying," he added. "We don't hire private investigators to follow students wherever they go. If students say stupid things online, they should educate them ... not engage in prior restraint."

Goemann also noted that the rush to social media monitoring raises an often overlooked legal concern: It's against Facebook's Terms of Service.

"You will not share your password ... let anyone else access your account or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account," the site says in its policies.

Frederic Wolens, a Facebook spokesman, wouldn't comment on the Maryland legislative proposals, but he said many of these school and employer policies appear to violate the site's terms.

"Under our terms, only the holder of the email address and password is considered the Facebook account owner. We also prohibit anyone from soliciting the login information or accessing an account belonging to someone else," he said in a statement to msnbc.com. Wolens said Facebook has yet to take a position on collegiate social media monitoring.

Social media monitoring on colleges, while spreading quickly among athletic departments, seems to be limited to athletes at the moment. There's nothing stopping schools from applying the same policies to other students, however. And Shear says he's heard from college applicants that interviewers have requested Facebook or Twitter login information during in-person screenings.

The practice seems less common among employers, but scattered incidents are gaining attention from state lawmakers. The blog Tecca.com last year showed what it said was an image of an application for a clerical job with a North Carolina police department that included the following question:

"Do you have any web page accounts such as Facebook, Myspace, etc.? If so, list your username and password."

And the state of Illinois has followed Maryland's lead and is considering similar legislation to ban social media password demands by employers.

But Shear says a patchwork of state laws isn't good enough when the stakes are this high.

"We need a federal law dealing with this," he said. "After 9/11, we have a culture where some people think it's OK for the government to be this involved in our lives, that it's OK to turn everything over to the government. But it's not. We still have privacy rights in this country, and we still have a Constitution."

by on Mar. 6, 2012 at 8:12 AM
Replies (251-260):
mkcosmeticsgirl
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:27 AM

I SAY IT's A TEST OF LOYALTY! Are you willing to do what ever it takes to get the job (done) like give up what's personal and private??? If so, then what else are you willing to give up??

Avitar
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Yep, I know about this, too. Keep your families and loved one close. Aniegirl is not making this up. I've known about this for a long time and tell people whether they believe me or not.  It's good to see that I am not the only one trying to spread the word.There are FEMA Camps already set up in Northern California, 5 hours from me. We are all on the grid, and will have RFID chips put in us. As soon as our parents signed our birth cirtificates we became government property. They don't mean what you think birth cirts mean, look it up. If you refuse the chip, you will not get healthcare, jobs, be able to sell anything, buy anything when we become a cashless society, soon. Some already have them put in. It has a lethal does of cyanide to kill you on the spot, and can be activated.  Look it up. The truth is stranger and in this case scarier than fiction.  Do you know about the Georgia Guide stones? We are way over the human population amount limit that is writen on it. Look that up, too. 95% of us on this planet must die to get it down to 500.000.000 which is what the plan is. This is a world thing not just the U.S.A. Our government is part of something much bigger and sinister. This goes way past what we can vote for on a ballet. Everyone needs to see " 20 things Americans Should Know" you can find it on youtube. That will give you some info. Do your research, T.V. is censored to the max and you won't get a lot of what I think is fair for us to know. Did you know that Osama Bin Laden's real name was Ted Osman?? He was trained for terrorism by the CIA in 1974. Look it up!.. Those buildings were hit by missles not plains and Doctored up on T.V. Those who came forward were shut up in some way. Look it up!... it was done to create a war. Any president who creates a war gets a second term as war is very very profitable.  please look up everything I said. Love all of you Mommies! let's arm ourselves with knowledge so that we can protect our families <3 I know much much more, but this is a free forum so I have to be careful. Just look it up.


Quoting smtxcowgirl:

OH EM GEE!!! Do you honestly believe this?!?

Quoting anjegirl:

When the government signed onto AGENDA 21 Mark Zuckerburg signed an agreement with the CIA to track all AMerican citizens on FACEBOOK and they are gathering this info for the sole purpose of determining who to send to FEMA concentration camps on DEC 21,2012 and who of the sheeple can stay--the agreement signed by 178 countries in 1992 by both Clinton and Bush Jr. agrees to the depopulation of the earth from 6.6 billion ppl to 500 million ppl by the end of 2013 and Americans will be killed and herded into camps first of all the nations and facebook and wal-mart are in on it---there are ads all over the internet telling ppl to pull down their facebook pages----


Avitar
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:41 AM
1 mom liked this

You are a smart woman!.. This is just another government tracking device.

Quoting Mommyzlovez:

 Thats why you put it under and assumed name and do not tell them about it, I knwo many that do this BECAUSE of this reason...if its not under your real name and therefore cant reflect poorly on them (some people really do go too far pn FB) then they do not really need to know or have access to this.


Avitar
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:46 AM

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TzEEgtOFFlM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

alpnest
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:53 AM

WELL IT DOES NOT SURPRISE ME IN THE LEAST  ARE CONSTATUTIONAL RIGHTS ARE RIGHT DOWN THE TUBES  AND IT IS BECAUSE PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON IS SO AFRAID OF THERE OWN SHADOWS AND THERE  SICK ANY WAYS  WHEN THEY TAKE GOD OUT  OF SCHOOLS  AND PUBLIC PLACES

frustrated

smtxcowgirl
by Member on Mar. 9, 2012 at 8:09 AM
1 mom liked this
Oh for f*cks sake.

Quoting Avitar:

Yep, I know about this, too. Keep your families and loved one close. Aniegirl is not making this up. I've known about this for a long time and tell people whether they believe me or not.  It's good to see that I am not the only one trying to spread the word.There are FEMA Camps already set up in Northern California, 5 hours from me. We are all on the grid, and will have RFID chips put in us. As soon as our parents signed our birth cirtificates we became government property. They don't mean what you think birth cirts mean, look it up. If you refuse the chip, you will not get healthcare, jobs, be able to sell anything, buy anything when we become a cashless society, soon. Some already have them put in. It has a lethal does of cyanide to kill you on the spot, and can be activated.  Look it up. The truth is stranger and in this case scarier than fiction.  Do you know about the Georgia Guide stones? We are way over the human population amount limit that is writen on it. Look that up, too. 95% of us on this planet must die to get it down to 500.000.000 which is what the plan is. This is a world thing not just the U.S.A. Our government is part of something much bigger and sinister. This goes way past what we can vote for on a ballet. Everyone needs to see " 20 things Americans Should Know" you can find it on youtube. That will give you some info. Do your research, T.V. is censored to the max and you won't get a lot of what I think is fair for us to know. Did you know that Osama Bin Laden's real name was Ted Osman?? He was trained for terrorism by the CIA in 1974. Look it up!.. Those buildings were hit by missles not plains and Doctored up on T.V. Those who came forward were shut up in some way. Look it up!... it was done to create a war. Any president who creates a war gets a second term as war is very very profitable.  please look up everything I said. Love all of you Mommies! let's arm ourselves with knowledge so that we can protect our families <3 I know much much more, but this is a free forum so I have to be careful. Just look it up.



Quoting smtxcowgirl:

OH EM GEE!!! Do you honestly believe this?!?



Quoting anjegirl:

When the government signed onto AGENDA 21 Mark Zuckerburg signed an agreement with the CIA to track all AMerican citizens on FACEBOOK and they are gathering this info for the sole purpose of determining who to send to FEMA concentration camps on DEC 21,2012 and who of the sheeple can stay--the agreement signed by 178 countries in 1992 by both Clinton and Bush Jr. agrees to the depopulation of the earth from 6.6 billion ppl to 500 million ppl by the end of 2013 and Americans will be killed and herded into camps first of all the nations and facebook and wal-mart are in on it---there are ads all over the internet telling ppl to pull down their facebook pages----


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
smtxcowgirl
by Member on Mar. 9, 2012 at 8:28 AM
2 moms liked this
You DO know everything on YouTube isn't real, right?

I really feel very sorry for you. You're actually crazier than the whole "conspiracy" because it's people like you who are going to go insane near December 21st.

Oh yeah, and the Mayans didn't account for leap years so technically, the world should have ended 7 months ago.

Do you believe everything Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh tells you?
Quoting Avitar:

Yep, I know about this, too. Keep your families and loved one close. Aniegirl is not making this up. I've known about this for a long time and tell people whether they believe me or not.  It's good to see that I am not the only one trying to spread the word.There are FEMA Camps already set up in Northern California, 5 hours from me. We are all on the grid, and will have RFID chips put in us. As soon as our parents signed our birth cirtificates we became government property. They don't mean what you think birth cirts mean, look it up. If you refuse the chip, you will not get healthcare, jobs, be able to sell anything, buy anything when we become a cashless society, soon. Some already have them put in. It has a lethal does of cyanide to kill you on the spot, and can be activated.  Look it up. The truth is stranger and in this case scarier than fiction.  Do you know about the Georgia Guide stones? We are way over the human population amount limit that is writen on it. Look that up, too. 95% of us on this planet must die to get it down to 500.000.000 which is what the plan is. This is a world thing not just the U.S.A. Our government is part of something much bigger and sinister. This goes way past what we can vote for on a ballet. Everyone needs to see " 20 things Americans Should Know" you can find it on youtube. That will give you some info. Do your research, T.V. is censored to the max and you won't get a lot of what I think is fair for us to know. Did you know that Osama Bin Laden's real name was Ted Osman?? He was trained for terrorism by the CIA in 1974. Look it up!.. Those buildings were hit by missles not plains and Doctored up on T.V. Those who came forward were shut up in some way. Look it up!... it was done to create a war. Any president who creates a war gets a second term as war is very very profitable.  please look up everything I said. Love all of you Mommies! let's arm ourselves with knowledge so that we can protect our families <3 I know much much more, but this is a free forum so I have to be careful. Just look it up.



Quoting smtxcowgirl:

OH EM GEE!!! Do you honestly believe this?!?





Quoting anjegirl:

When the government signed onto AGENDA 21 Mark Zuckerburg signed an agreement with the CIA to track all AMerican citizens on FACEBOOK and they are gathering this info for the sole purpose of determining who to send to FEMA concentration camps on DEC 21,2012 and who of the sheeple can stay--the agreement signed by 178 countries in 1992 by both Clinton and Bush Jr. agrees to the depopulation of the earth from 6.6 billion ppl to 500 million ppl by the end of 2013 and Americans will be killed and herded into camps first of all the nations and facebook and wal-mart are in on it---there are ads all over the internet telling ppl to pull down their facebook pages----


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Avitar
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 8:29 AM

As I said, I don't care if people believe it or not. You don't have to be rude. JUST DON'T REPLY IF YOU FEEL THE WAY YOUR COMMENT REFLECTS!..

Quoting smtxcowgirl:

Oh for f*cks sake.

Quoting Avitar:

Yep, I know about this, too. Keep your families and loved one close. Aniegirl is not making this up. I've known about this for a long time and tell people whether they believe me or not.  It's good to see that I am not the only one trying to spread the word.There are FEMA Camps already set up in Northern California, 5 hours from me. We are all on the grid, and will have RFID chips put in us. As soon as our parents signed our birth cirtificates we became government property. They don't mean what you think birth cirts mean, look it up. If you refuse the chip, you will not get healthcare, jobs, be able to sell anything, buy anything when we become a cashless society, soon. Some already have them put in. It has a lethal does of cyanide to kill you on the spot, and can be activated.  Look it up. The truth is stranger and in this case scarier than fiction.  Do you know about the Georgia Guide stones? We are way over the human population amount limit that is writen on it. Look that up, too. 95% of us on this planet must die to get it down to 500.000.000 which is what the plan is. This is a world thing not just the U.S.A. Our government is part of something much bigger and sinister. This goes way past what we can vote for on a ballet. Everyone needs to see " 20 things Americans Should Know" you can find it on youtube. That will give you some info. Do your research, T.V. is censored to the max and you won't get a lot of what I think is fair for us to know. Did you know that Osama Bin Laden's real name was Ted Osman?? He was trained for terrorism by the CIA in 1974. Look it up!.. Those buildings were hit by missles not plains and Doctored up on T.V. Those who came forward were shut up in some way. Look it up!... it was done to create a war. Any president who creates a war gets a second term as war is very very profitable.  please look up everything I said. Love all of you Mommies! let's arm ourselves with knowledge so that we can protect our families <3 I know much much more, but this is a free forum so I have to be careful. Just look it up.

 


Quoting smtxcowgirl:

OH EM GEE!!! Do you honestly believe this?!?



Quoting anjegirl:

When the government signed onto AGENDA 21 Mark Zuckerburg signed an agreement with the CIA to track all AMerican citizens on FACEBOOK and they are gathering this info for the sole purpose of determining who to send to FEMA concentration camps on DEC 21,2012 and who of the sheeple can stay--the agreement signed by 178 countries in 1992 by both Clinton and Bush Jr. agrees to the depopulation of the earth from 6.6 billion ppl to 500 million ppl by the end of 2013 and Americans will be killed and herded into camps first of all the nations and facebook and wal-mart are in on it---there are ads all over the internet telling ppl to pull down their facebook pages----

 


Aeonix
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 8:31 AM
That's scary. I'm glad at least lawmakers see an issue with this. I keep all my posts private and kept to friends because of an ex and a stalker. There's far too much potential for abuse not to mention the blatant invasion of privacy.

I'd never give my info over. If it meant I wouldn't get the job, or get to go to that school, then it's not somewhere I'd want to be anyway.
doll0302
by on Mar. 9, 2012 at 8:42 AM

I would just delete my account. Personally, i don't have anything juicy or private on my FB because i am not that kind of person. I know that some people do, and make comments on their jobs and all, which makes no sense because there have been people fired at my job over things like that. People will learn one day i suppose. 

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