There was an amazing article posted last week that reported a new and highly disturbing trend. Here is a recap. Apparently, more and more employers, college admissions offices, and even sports coaches are under the mistaken impression that they have the right to request or even demand login and password information to potential employees or applicants’ Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube accounts so they can browse them for potentially damaging information contained in posts.
I’m sorry, but I think that’s completely, totally, heinously inappropriate. Not only is it a serious invasion of privacy, highly presumptuous, rude, obnoxious, patronizing and potentially illegal, but it probably won’t work. Any player, student, or applicant worth having will probably run away from these opportunities because they will see this amazing privacy breach for what it is, a serious overreach. In other cases, they will simply conceal their true identity with dummy accounts designed to retain the privacy we all know is our right. Others will simply close their accounts, if the job is serious enough.
My problem is that I don’t think anyone should have to choose between employment, education, sports, and privacy. Last time I checked, it was an inalienable right. I can see certain industries, like national security or defense, requesting accounts to be closed or suspended, but I cannot advocate requiring actual access to personal account information as a condition of anything valid or legitimate, ever, nor can I condone forced friendship for “monitoring purposes.” What happens in the public area is fair game. Scrutinize all you want any thing I post for public consumption. But my friends, my data, my private time outside of areas I agree to share are just that–MINE. You can pry them from my cold dead hands. If you dare.