More bosses demand access to private Facebook accounts

More organizations are snooping at a level so obviously wrong there's no excuse for even trying it


I have to admit being surprised that even among those who don't spend any time thinking about whether the same rights that protect Americans in the physical world should apply in the digital would not see an obvious answer to that one.

Is there anyone – seriously, anyone – so insensitive of the rights and personal boundaries of others that they think it's acceptable in any way – let alone legal – to try to force someone to give access to their social networks to a total stranger with whom they are interviewing for a job?

Facebook Peeping: What it is and why it should cause public backlash, not poor performance reviews

The victim of idiots in this case is Robert Collins – who was employed by the Maryland Division of Corrections (MDOC) and going through routine recertification when his interviewer demanded that he hand over his Facebook username and password.

Collins then "had to sit there while the interviewer logged on to his account and read not only his postings, but those of his family and friends too," according to the Maryland ACLU.

Collins complained to the ACLU, which complained in a letter to Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard, who oversees the MDOC, that the policy was unutterably stupid, offensive, invasive and illegal even for new job candidates.

For existing employees that have already undergone repeated background checks and performance reviews, snooping into private social-networking activity doesn't just indicate a lack of respect for employees, it shows complete contempt for them personally, their legal rights and for the responsibility they exercise every day while performing their jobs.

What is your experience with Facebook Peeping?

My question is how the hell many companies actually try to do this and why do people go along with it? All the recent stories I saw name only the MDOC as an employer demanding the right to access private Facebook accounts. Time implies it's a much more widespread practice, with no references that would make clear it's not an isolated bit of stupidity – the kind that dries up and blows away when exposed to public attention and ridicule.

If the belief that bosses have the right to demand social networking usernames and passwords is limited only to the Maryland Dept. of Corrections, the outbreak of stupidity is isolated and can be counted on to die away.

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