It would be delusional to think that potential employers and college admission officers or coaches didn’t take a peek at Facebook profiles as a way to gain some insight into the person they may hire or accept. If your privacy settings are at a point where they can’t see or locate your full profile though, MSNBC reports, it has become more common for them to ask you to turn over full access to them.
The corrections department of Maryland, for example, had job candidates hand over or type in passwords on the interview and browsed pages while the subject sat painfully across from them. MSNBC reports that schools and collegiate athletic teams are following suit having students add coaches as friends or working through other administrators to see what is on Facebook pages.
But is this required surrendering of one’s personal life for a job or sports team acceptance going to far? According to MSNBC at least one lawyer thinks it is violating First Amendment rights: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?”
“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?”
“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,” [Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens] said in a statement to msnbc.com. Wolens said Facebook has yet to take a position on collegiate social media monitoring.
It is unclear if the potential laws preventing sharing of passwords would also protect against over the shoulder access to personal social media sites during interviews. Goemann told MSNBC that in the case of the Maryland Department of Corrections this part of the interview was voluntary, but she said many would submit as they wanted to score well.
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