What would you do if your prospective employer asked for passwords to all of your social networking sites?
According to ReadWriteWeb, if you apply to work for the city of Bozeman MT, you are asked for a list of the domains, usernames and passwords for “any and all current personal or business websites, 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”.
First of all, these people clearly have no depth of understanding of what they are asking for — the fact that they provided only THREE spaces for someone to enter their entire web presence is obviously a travesty of a mockery of a sham. Most people I know would have to include an excel spreadsheet as an addendum :)
Beyond that, ask yourself what exactly it is that Bozeman’s moral evaluation team could possibly wish to examine in these accounts. Most of what you put into a social networking site is there for other people to consume. What have you got in your accounts that you couldn’t share using less intrusive methods?
Asking for Yahoo and Google passwords gives access to a massive amount of information, the richest source being your email. Think of the juicy things they can mine for: affairs, viagra purchases, subscriptions to pr0n sites… Facebook accounts could be mined for private messages. Chat rooms… seems likely that racy-sounding chat room accounts won’t make it onto the application – so how do you evaluate a benign-sounding chat room account? Log in and see if somebody wants to talk dirty?
And what if you are having an affair? What if you’re in the closet? What if you are part of an unusual religion? What if you are pregnant or have an STD? You should still be qualified for most jobs at the city of Bozeman – but do you really think that knowledge of these facts won’t influence your chances?
If a company asked you those kind of questions in the interview, you could sue. Why on earth should they be able to ask for access to go find the answers themselves?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nolifebeforecoffee/124659356