Want a Job? Please Provide Facebook Password


Note: Missing Person Monday's post was moved to Saturday.

A few months ago, I blogged about how applicants to the NYPD were asked by agency background examiners to provide usernames and passwords to their social networking sites. Police background examiners have always had a reputation of being thorough—understandably, since officials don’t want to hand a city-issued Glock to an unstable employee who is going to screw-up and/or embarrass the department.

In my previous writing, I stated that I could see why the agency would want to learn everything about want-to-be police officers, but that I did not think it would stand-up to a court challenge; especially since NYPD apparently does not have a policy on the procedure.

Last week, the same issue appeared again in the news; this time in Bozeman, Montana:

If you’re planning to apply for a job with the city of Bozeman, prepare to clean up your Facebook page.

As part of routine background checks, the city asks job applicants to provide their usernames and passwords for their social-networking sites. And it has been doing it for years, city officials said.

“Please list any and all, current personal or business Web sites, Web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.,” states a city waiver form applicants are asked to sign. Three lines are provided for applicants to list log-in information for each site.

City officials maintain the policy is necessary to ensure employees’ integrity and protect the public’s trust, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana says they may be crossing the line.

“I would guess that they’re on some shaky legal ground with this and we would certainly welcome (the opportunity) to look at something specific from somebody who’s impacted,” Executive Director Scott Crichton said Thursday.

He said Bozeman’s policy is unprecedented as far as he knows. ACLU’s legal counsel in Washington, D.C., had never heard of another city asking for log-in information for social networking sites as part of a job application.

“It’s like saying, ‘Let me look through your e-mails,’” Crichton said…
The practice had started with police and fire applicants and then was expanded into all job seekers. The article continues that city officials were quickly meeting to study and likely amend the procedure.

Well, late Friday they released this:

…"Effective at noon today, the City of Bozeman permanently ceased the practice of requesting that candidates selected for positions under a provisional job offer to provide their user names or passwords for candidates Internet sites," Bozeman City Manager Chris Kukulski said Friday….

This won't be the last time we see this issue in the news.

I just feel bad that I actually agreed with the ACLU on an issue…

8 comments:

angelcel said...

Really? I don't know the track record of the ACLU but Civil Liberties groups over here (UK) I think perform a valuable function ... but then it has to be said that I think we rank as the most 'surveilled' society in the world now. (Is 'surveilled' actually a word)?!! Anyway...

As for the issue of asking for passwords etc. the amount that we trust to the web and reveal about ourselves has long bothered me. It was bound to come home to roost sooner or later, which is why I'm glad that I am the original 'Mrs. Paranoia'. I've written online in various places for a good 10years now yet revealed remarkably little about the true me. I've just always thought it barmy to 'spill all' when you don't know half the people who are reading and the other half you don't *really* know either.

Natalie said...

Wow. I taught an internet safety unit to my sixth grade students a few years back, and there are TONS of red flags in sharing that personal info "required" by applicants!
Safe internet use isn't unachievable, but some things like passwords aren't meant to be shared. With anyone. If sixth graders can get it, why does it take ACLU to knock some common sense into Bozeman?! Wow.

thewarriorpoets said...

Yeah, I'm not thinking I'd be turning in that application. And because I have anything I don't want them seeing on my facebook, but because it's none of their dang business.

When I was at the NA, whenever I'd dip into the library, all of the new agent trainees were in their checking their FB. It's our future.

Law enforcement management is having a hard time coming to grips with "new" social technology.

fayezie said...

that IS the twist of facebook, isn't it??? people from the "college" days leaving messages with perhaps some dirty language or sarcasm, or dirty jokes, or quizzes on what your "porn star name should be"....it all doesn't really MEAN anything, and could be taken to profile someone in a completely inaccurate way...

facebook is sort of "public" anyway, so if someone is doing something illegal, they certainly wouldn't be doing it via facebook... (unless I'm naive)...

of course, I also don't know exactly what standards a law enforcement applicant has to live by....

Now if the job is with FBI/CIA/Secret Service, yeah okay understood. THEY want to know everything...

Slamdunk said...

AC: I would say that the ACLU here has a recent track record of only pursuing the interests of those views that they agree with as opposed to protecting liberties.

I can agree with them more now--when I was the police they were the agency that made my job much more difficult.

Anonymous said...

J.J. I suppose you must believe Ray was abducted. I guess that you must think he was lured into a situation where he was to be murdered and was so trusting that he didn't leave any information about what might have happend to him in the case of his disappearance. Further, he planned to bring his computer and make sure that his hard drive would be "fried". Is that right? Do you think that's the most likely senario?

Anonymous said...

Hi Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?

Slamdunk said...

@ anonymous: If you are serious, email me at theslamdunktrove@gmail.com and let me know what you are using.