You Want My Social Media Password? Uh, Uh. I Don’t Think So

I thought that local, state and federal agencies in the U.S. wanted to help put people back to work. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to gain employment, RedTape Chronicles of msnbc.com reported that government agencies and even colleges are now asking job seekers to provide a user name and password for facebook accounts.

The ACLU of Maryland has called on the Maryland Division of Corrections to rescind a blanket policy demanding personal social media passwords from corrections officers and applicants as part of the employment certification process.

If a password isn’t the request, it’s the requirement that you “friend” or “follow” a coach or some other authority.

I’m not a lawyer but I think it’s safe to say this is another egregious trampling of our constitutional rights. What is happening in our country when now we can’t even have freedom to assemble in social communities without intrusion?

Is this Big Brother of Orwell’s 1984?

We know that almost anyone can see anything you say online. Openness is part of the allure of networking online. But, let’s say this username and password demand is allowed – that an employer can require you to give up your social media username and password. Would you feel as safe speaking your thoughts? Have you posted a photo you are going to regret? Is there a quotation that you loved that you’re now sorry you do?

As an introvert, not to be confused with shy, I’ve usually thought out what I am going to say before I post. And photos? Those are minimal. Regardless of our population being 50/50 more extroverted and more introverted, every human being has some degree of holding back and not revealing everything. I’m not creating a running diary, that’s for certain.

Does it go both ways?

Okay, so my future employer wants to learn about who I am – what kind of language I use, what my interests and goals are. Then, Mr. University, or Ms. Government agency, can I have your user name and password so I can go beyond your public comments to learn about your real values, your real culture, not just the ones you put out to the public?

Out of curiosity, I Googled some sites about the legality of this trend. At myFoxPhoenix.com I found that there is not a law against it. But, to use a cliché, “There oughta be a law!”

What would that law be? There oughta be a law against government agencies and employers with policies that trample on individual rights and liberties. “Mr. Potential Employer, I’ve already opened the kimono by being online. I’m not going to take it off!”

Are there creative ways around it?

Thankfully many people are resourceful and I believe if such a requirement is allowed we’ll find ways around it. One possibility I read about is to create a second account, presuming the online social venue allows it. Then you decide what you say for real and what you say just to show you are active online.

A second possibility is to take this demand seriously and surrender to it and just clean up your profile and postings the best you can.

Still a third is to consider this: would you really want to work for any government agency or employer who acts as if they own you and your life? I sure as heck wouldn’t so I would be one to say, “No I will not,” and just take my chances.

Pass a law

"social media password"Every state could pass a law against this intrusion into our personal lives. The federal government could step in and trump the states with a ban against these kinds of demands.

We the people could have a Boston Tea Party-like uprising. Or even social networks like facebook could say, “But wait, it’s in our Terms of Service that you not share your password or give access to your account to anyone else.”

Let’s say this demand for IDs and passwords is upheld. How do we know that employees of the organizations who collect our information have themselves been subjected to screening and careful scrutiny? Consider the possible “identity theft” incidents by the organization’s official representative empowered to enforce the policy.

If government agencies, colleges and companies can demand our username and password, what’s to stop them from going further and asking for our most private information? Let your mind start to wander and you’ll scare that kimono right off you.

Patricia Weber, a courage coach for the reluctant networker and marketer, offers eBooks, Kindle books, teleclasses, and workshops to lead and inspire the sales reluctant, to discover their personal breakthrough for ultimate success. She blogs at http://www.patricia-weber.

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Comments

  1. Hi Pat,

    Did anyone say why they wanted the username and password? I would have thought it is at the basic level an intrusion of privacy. It would be the same as granting access to all your phone calls which is not logical. It also shows total lack of trust. Hopefully this doesn’t make it to my country.

  2. @Susan, in all the news I read, about 4 media releases in all, I could not see a reason other than it was asked for during the interview process. It was asked for in two ways: direct (we’d like your username and password) and for hot data (we’d like you to log in to your account right now so we can see what you are saying.)

    Let’s hope we’re smart enough to can this kind of action.

  3. I use facebook, twitter, Google+ (occasionally) and stay pretty conservative in what I say, just because I’m a private person that way. I’ve learned from the mistakes of others that submitting your thoughts (no matter how justified they may be) through social media is not a good idea. For example, I had a friend who’s wife loved to post how terrible her job was and how she hated her “stupid” boss. Hey, we’ve all felt that way at some point, but why put it on facebook? Needless to say she lost her job. Months later when she started her new job (after a co worker saw her negative posts and reported them), she was at it again. I say this because people have the right, no matter how infantile it may be, to discuss whatever they please on their own social media outlets, but they should know the consequences. And yes, there should be a law against this terrible idea that indeed ramples on our constitutional rights. And we as the people, need to stand up and fight this slow devouring of our right to privacy in the name of national security and any other nonsense.

  4. @Dennise, no doubt employers might take offense with hearing – not so nice place to work! You are correct about it is a fine balance between common sense and being able to speak your mind. For me, as a solopreneur, I’ve often thought that what I say on taboo topics – politics, religion, sex – might offend a potential or current client. Yet, I have found on occasion – I actually GAIN clients! Go figure.

    Let’s hope for laws that recognize, as the freest country in the world, we have rights. We want to keep those rights.

  5. Just read at http://publicityhound.net/career-counselors-lawyers-join-the-facebook-password-debate/:

    “The article also said that the Department of Justice regards it as a federal crime to enter a social networking site in violation of the terms of service, but during recent congressional testimony, the agency said such violations would not be prosecuted.”

    So then having the government help us isn’t an option is it? Oh, it’s a crime yes and if you do it you’re off the hook. Geez.