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Employer Demands Facebook Login From Job Applicants 434

Posted by Soulskill
from the poking-and-prodding dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Alex Madrigal reports in the Atlantic that the ACLU has taken up the case of Maryland corrections officer Robert Collins, who was required to provide his Facebook login and password to the Maryland Division of Corrections during a recertification interview so the interviewer could log on to his account and read not only his postings, but those of his family and friends too. 'We live in a time when national security is the highest priority, but it must be delicately balanced with personal privacy,' says Collins. 'My fellow officers and I should not have to allow the government to view our personal Facebook posts and those of our friends, just to keep our jobs.' The ACLU of Maryland has sent a letter to Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard (PDF) concerning the Division of Correction's blanket requirement that applicants for employment with the division, as well as current employees undergoing recertification, provide the government with their social media account usernames and personal passwords for use in employee background checks. After three weeks the ACLU has received no response."
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Employer Demands Facebook Login From Job Applicants

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:16PM (#35254600)

    and it's not just because I don't have any friends

    • by Mistlefoot (636417) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @03:56PM (#35255236)
      All facebook users agree to NOT Share their password when they access or use Facebook.

      So basically, to work at that correctional facility you MUST show that you are ready, willing and able to break past agreements that you have made and will continue to make in the future (every time you access Facebook).

      Nice to see that they want honest people guarding those who are incarcerated. :P

      http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=101063233083&topic=15948&post=110792#!/terms.php

      Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

      This Statement of Rights and Responsibilities ("Statement") derives from the Facebook Principles, and governs our relationship with users and others who interact with Facebook. By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement.

      # Registration and Account Security

      Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

            1. You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
            2. You will not create more than one personal profile.
            3. If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
            4. You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).
            5. You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.
            6. You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.
            7. You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.
            8. You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.
            9. You will not transfer your account (including any page or application you administer) to anyone without first getting our written permission.
          10. If you select a username for your account we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user's actual name).
    • by LockeOnLogic (723968) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @04:40PM (#35255456)
      So many posts here are about not using facebook, not having facebook ect... This isn't an option for everyone. A huge portion of my friends use facebook with ages that range from pre-pubescent family members to senior citizens. I have friends around the world with whom I'd have minimal communication if not for facebook. Facebook allows me to keep touch with my friends and acquaintances abroad and at home in a single place that they will check often (too often). I deprive myself socially by not having an account. I don't care for it, but so many people I know use it I have no option. I just avoid saying or posting anything anything remotely incriminating.
      • by Cederic (9623) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @05:02PM (#35255564) Journal

        Anybody that has facebook also has an email address. What's wrong with using that?

        • Email ALL of my freinds and family with a status update? Alright, not ALL freinds and family need to know that I've done some mundane little task - but maybe twelve of them are interested in my doctor's visit. Send an email to all of them? Why? Why not just post the update, "Back from doctor's, news is good!" That way, all of those twelve get the information, plus those peripherally concerned who might be interested. Social networking isn't evil - it's just used carelessly for the most part. Yes, I h
  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:18PM (#35254614) Homepage
    One full of HOORAH, LOVE THE GOVERNMENT! and liking AMERICA: WE'LL PUT A BOOT IN YER ASS, but without many friends attached. And then you'll have your other (perhaps similar) Facebook page, but with your real friends and activities. That's not misleading, they wanted your Facebook login. They got it. No biggie.
    • by iserlohn (49556)

      That's why we should have a government should be accountable to us. Not to completely destroy it.

      • I can only imagine how many of them would be in Gitmo or prison for treason, domestic terrorism or "other".

        When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
        The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
        A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Spy Handler (822350)
      nah, just do what i do: don't have a fucking facebook account = problem solved
    • by timeOday (582209)
      If you're going to lie, why not just say you don't have an account at all?

      Either way, once you start weaving a web of lies, you're committed. If they find out you were lying, it would look pretty bad.

      The only real solution is to get this lousy policy repealed.

  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:19PM (#35254620)
    Even if I thought sharing your facebook login with your employer was reasonable (which I don't), why would they need your password? So they could post crap on your account?

    Disclaimer: I am an avid non-facebook user. I refuse to support what I consider a complete waste of time and computing resources.

  • by Cjstone (1144829) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:20PM (#35254626) Homepage
    A lot of people have the opinion that the ACLU is only about shutting down the speech of Christians/Whites/Men/*insert majority group here.* I think this case proves that not to be the case, and demonstrates the good that the ACLU actually does: Protecting personal privacy, freedom of expression, etc. This is a very important case, one that could potentially set a very bad precedent. It's good that there's at least one somewhat powerful organization on the side of personal privacy in this case. I hope groups like the EFF get involved as well.
    • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:31PM (#35254698)

      A lot of people have the opinion that the ACLU is only about shutting down the speech of Christians/Whites/Men/*insert majority group here.* I think this case proves that not to be the case

      Why exactly? They can still be anti-majority and still support things that are otherwise good. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      I don't think the ACLU goes after majority groups, but they certainly go after somethings that clearly they shouldn't be, but thats the double edge sword of an organization like the ACLU, their viewpoint of civil liberties is different than mine. So when they are for something I agree with, I support them and make others aware of their fight, and when they are going off on some wildly retarded tangent like they so regularly do, I make sure people understand why I think its silly or wrong.

      The same for the EFF, though I must admit the EFF is generally more aligned with my own opinions so its rarer that I disagree with the EFF but it certainly has happened.

      One of the things all Americans (I don't want to speak for other countries though its certainly the same in some others) need to remember is that we all don't have to agree on everything. The only thing we all REALLY need to agree with is that its okay for others to have a differing opinion, and its okay for them to do things we don't really agree with as long as they aren't really bothering or harming anyone else. And that is just about where everyone fails, myself included. Its not always easy to accept someone else's opinion, viewpoint or way of doing things.

      • Typically the accusations are that the ACLU protects the speech of abortion-protestors, but not anti-abortion-protestors, of feminists but not anti-feminists (are there even anti-feminists around anymore?), of atheists, but not religious types. They ostensibly support free speech, but then get gag orders to stop criticism of their own organization.

        I don't know if any of that is true, it doesn't matter to me enough to check, but here is a review of an 'expose' [wsj.com] by a former member of the ACLU board. Seems t
    • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @03:11PM (#35254924)

      A lot of people have the opinion that the ACLU is only about shutting down the speech of Christians/Whites/Men/*insert majority group here.

      A lot of people also voluntarily subject themselves to media outlets that flood them with propaganda that tells them that ACLU, liberals, democrats, and muslims all do hate and undermine Christians, Whites, men, and American values.

      A lot of people are clueless, lied to, misinformed, confused or just outright ignorant. Their views frequently don't match reality, but that doesn't stop politicians from catering to their whims.

      As an example of how out of touch with reality some people are, in 2009, a Pew Research Poll that was conducted in order to study perceived media bias actually found that 14% of people though that Fox News was mostly liberal. How could someone even come up with such a conclusion? Are these people so far to the right that even Fox looks liberal to them? Have they just never seen it? Or maybe they believe Fox's own propaganda that all news media is liberal, and assume it means them too.

      However, back to the main point, the ACLU is about protecting people's rights and isn't taking religious sides. They have also defended free speech of Christians when that speech was challenged as being too hostile toward muslims or gays. The ACLU has even sided with those who protested against the ACLU!

      http://www.aclufightsforchristians.com/ [aclufights...stians.com]

      And sure, a lot of people don't acknowledge this or care, but a lot of people also suffer from confirmation bias [wikipedia.org]

      • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @03:59PM (#35255252)

        To be fair, Fox does sprinkle in known lies pretty liberally.

      • by Eil (82413)

        As an example of how out of touch with reality some people are, in 2009, a Pew Research Poll that was conducted in order to study perceived media bias actually found that 14% of people though that Fox News was mostly liberal. How could someone even come up with such a conclusion?

        Easy, 28% of the people they surveyed were too busy with their lives to follow politics and half of them got the answer wrong.

  • Balance? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:21PM (#35254628)

    "We live in a time when national security is the highest priority, but it must be delicately balanced with personal privacy"

    Calling it a delicate balance is a sleazy way of excusing any violations by suggesting that it's such a difficult fine line that nobody could be expected to do the right thing, all the time. There is no delicate balance. Personal privacy and liberty must always trump security, for without privacy and liberty, there's nothing worth securing. There's no point in protecting a bank vault that has already been looted of everything.

    Also. A corrections officer in a prison. Hardly in a position to be trading secrets with Iran or Osama.

    • Re:Balance? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by msobkow (48369) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:35PM (#35254720) Homepage Journal

      This isn't a case of "delicate balance." It's a sickening abuse.

      He's a corrections officer, not some top-level CIA gumshoe!

    • False dillema (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @03:09PM (#35254912)
      I was actually thinking it's a false dillema [wikimedia.org], starting with the premise that "national security is the highest priority." Sure as hell isn't for me. I just want a functioning public transit system, power, running water, and law and order in my community. Funny how our state got slammed with record levels of snow, and the National Guard couldn't help out...because they're deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Funny how funding for social spending has dried up and all the teenagers in my community are now running around shooting each other (and innocent bystanders) because they have no education, no job, no future. The only people that seem concerned about national security are the people paid to do so or the people who otherwise benefit from such efforts and its rhetoric.
    • "We live in a time when national security is the highest priority..."

      No, it isn't the highest priority. There have been times when it was. When the British army invaded Washington in 1812. it was. When the Nazis had conquered Europe and were getting ready to do the same to the US, it was. When the USSR built 10,000 atomic bombs and talked about conquering the world, it was.

      But not now. No foreign power is an immediate threat. Not even close. Terrorism is down to the nuisance level, well below floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and drunk driving as a problem. Street crime is d

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      "There is no delicate balance."

      Right, and furthermore we don't live in particularly dangerous times. We had the threat of nuclear war for decades, and now all we have to worry about in terms of national security is terrorism.

  • by meepzorb (61992) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:22PM (#35254636)

    Cue the "no such thing as privacy! glorious free market! employer rights 100% teh awesome! john galt ROX!" posts in three... two... one...

    • Here's an idea: why don't we actually ask the dissenters what they think instead of putting words in their mouths and creating false dichotomies.
  • Refuse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by syousef (465911) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:24PM (#35254648) Journal

    If you're actually prepared to sue, I'd say refuse to provide the login, and let them terminate you. Then go after them for wrongful dismissal.

  • If I were the employee, I'd use Facebook's activation feature to temporarily remove my account from the system. "What account? Facebook? Don't have one."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitterOak (537666)

      If I were the employee, I'd use Facebook's activation feature to temporarily remove my account from the system. "What account? Facebook? Don't have one."

      Well, you'd be out of a job if your employer finds a cached copy of your Facebook page in Google, for instance. Would you want to risk that?

      • by SnoopJeDi (859765)
        On what grounds? I wouldn't say "never had one." If they find it in Google cache, it means I didn't care enough about the privacy of that information to alter my settings to prevent that. TFA doesn't suggest all employees must do this, only those up for hire or recert.
  • I would offer to exchange the key to my account with a key to his house front door or his email account. He can accept the exchange or reject it. When the shoe is placed on the other foot, the view of the request changes perspective. Whatever excuse he uses to not provide them to you, you use the same. If he does exchange keys, have fun.

  • by a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:30PM (#35254688) Homepage Journal

    From http://www.facebook.com/terms.php [facebook.com]

    Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

    This Statement of Rights and Responsibilities ("Statement") derives from the Facebook Principles, and governs our relationship with users and others who interact with Facebook. By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement.

    ...

    You will not share your password,
      (or in the case of developers, your secret key),
    let anyone else access your account,
    or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.

    So they wanted him to break the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities ?

    • by thsths (31372) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:47PM (#35254780)

      TOS may not be the main problem. I would think that this is also a federal crime "Intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain: ...
      Information from any protected computer if the conduct involves an interstate or foreign communication" and "Knowingly and with the intent to defraud, trafficking in a password or similar information through which a computer may be accessed without authorization" under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

      It is about time that the FBI starts to investigate, and clears up this nest of computer crime! :-)

    • So, giving out his Facebook password, by violating facebook's terms of service, would make his (and the facility's) access of the facebook a federal crime (by some legal theories and decisions).

      Break a crime as part of a job interview? For a job as a prison guard -- and end up in jail with his former charges??? hell no... better to sue for wrongful dismissal!

      • by toriver (11308)

        TSA agents get to fondle children without being convicted and registered as sex offenders - this is peanuts in comparison...

    • by kasperd (592156)
      I'd say if it was a person who was going to be working with computers as part of his job, it would be ok to ask that question. Only let people who refuse the request have the job, because anybody who accepts is obviously too careless with his credentials, and having him as an employee would be a security risk.
    • by Renraku (518261)

      Truth.

      By breaking their TOS, you open yourself up to possible civil action. Not that they would sue you for giving out your password, sure, but it's the principal of the thing.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:33PM (#35254708)

    If you have nothing to hide this surely shouldn't be a problem.

    • /s?

      You do know the logical error in that statement right? Privacy = concealment, regardless of it being for good, or bad reasons, necessary or un-necessary. Therefore, if you have something to hide, which is anybody who believes in or uses privacy, you can't have nothing to hide. P ^ ~P = F no matter what bullshit you try to throw into the syste,.
  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:36PM (#35254728)
    If they are douchy enough to ask for that crap.. you should probably move on.. srsly..
  • Breaking the Law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thsths (31372)

    Terms and Conditions, 4.8: "You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account."

    So to keep your job, you have to break the law?

    And am I the only one hearing Judas Priest in my head now? :-)

    • by nilloc (678273)
      I am not saying he should turn over his password, is the term and conditions of social website the law?
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Facebook terms if service isn't 'the law', don't confuse the two.

      The most Facebook could do is to yank your account, there would be no legal ramifications.

      That's not to say the employer isn't an asshat for asking, but there is no 'law' involved in this.

  • Facebook should publicly tell all job applicants "please cancel your Facebook account before applying for any job that requests the password, or we will cancel it for you if we find out you shared your password.

    At the very least, they should reset the password and warn the user not to give it out again or the account will be canceled.

    Sharing your password is typically a violation of the terms of service.

    • Facebook should notify all employers and background-check companies that they explicitly do NOT have permission to access a third-party's Facebook account even if they are using a login, on the assumption that the use of the login was coerced. Let them know that exceptions will only be made if the account owner AND the agency desiring access both certify under penalty of perjury that no consideration - including nothing related to getting or keeping a job or promotion - was offered in exchange for the acce

      • by thsths (31372)

        > Let them know that exceptions will only be made if the account owner AND the agency desiring access both certify under penalty of perjury that no consideration - including nothing related to getting or keeping a job or promotion - was offered in exchange for the access.

        Why should they make any exceptions? You are not allowed to pose using somebody else's account details. Period.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @02:57PM (#35254832)
    and I thought my boss was bad when he made me friend him before he would hire me!
    • and I thought my boss was bad when he made me friend him before he would hire me!

      Sue him for sexual harassment!

  • by stimpleton (732392) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @04:18PM (#35255352)
    2 years ago I thought about leaving my job, In preparation I created a facebook page using my real name, with two artificial friends. I posted several "updates" with pictures: "Standing in a small group" at my old university refectory, a photograph at a church bake sale(I am agnostic, but those grey hairs make a proper cake), and a few from my mountain climbing days. If I motivate myself to still leave, I will spend a half hour and make another update.

    I refuse all friend requests. Even my spouses.

    My Manager returned from a 5 day management course recently. One 1/2 hour lecture was on Social Media.
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @06:15PM (#35255946)

    Why just facebook? Why not linkedln or myspace?

  • by dasheiff (261577) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @07:28PM (#35256436) Homepage

    This sounds like a test. I mean if an applicant was willing to give out their facebook password for a job, it's be clear that they were bribeable and shouldn't be guarding prisoners.

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @08:57PM (#35256864) Homepage
    People have been tolerating piss tests to get/keep jobs for years, and the inevitable result is that employers reach out for more.

    The thing to do is apply for jobs when you have one (ideally), and refuse piss tests when asked.  If enough people start turning down jobs for that reason, it will go away.

    But America will have to grow some balls, first.
  • I personally don't use Facebook because it's unknown where the direction of the company is going to go, and they seem to be very aggressive about their use of the data. Don't trust them. It's that simple.

    I know many people that do. Of those people, I know plenty that had bad experiences, and plenty that had good ones too. I personally wouldn't judge somebody on a Facebook account, because the use cases are all over the map.

    That's what good interview skills are all about. Christ, if they can't do a good read on the person they have DIRECT and IMMEDIATE access to, perhaps it's time to get some education, instead of falling back on shitty things like asking for the keys to people's personal lives.

    To me, this shit is all self-correcting. Anybody that makes a mess of their lives on Facebook will probably only get to work in the fucked up places where that shit doesn't matter. Fine by me. Employers who turn to the Internet in abusive ways to get advantage over their employees are not worth working for either.

    People tend to sort themselves out over time. No worries here.

    The best thing is to just manage your life, and your employment opportunities and think things over before you do them. Shutting some doors that you never, ever plan to walk through isn't too big of a deal. Not sure? Then be conservative about it, until you are. Most of it is all that simple.

  • by Tom (822) on Sunday February 20, 2011 @05:47PM (#35262118) Homepage Journal

    We live in a time when national security is the highest priority

    Uh, no? Where do you get that from? National security is no more or less important than at any other time in history. There have always been nations who hate your guts, there have always been people armed with the latest in destructive technologies, there have always been people getting killed violently.

    Scientifically speaking, apply logic 101. If your assumption is incorrect, your conclusion is worse than false, it is meaningless.

    We really, really need to teach kids logic 101. Maybe then when they grow up, this nonsense by which national policies are determined by unsubstantiated claims will finally end.

  • by dugeen (1224138) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:08AM (#35265940) Journal
    It is possible to see this in a positive light - even people involved in the day-to-day implementation of authoritarianism are capable of understanding violations of privacy when they themselves are the target.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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