A flagrant abuse - be warned

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A flagrant abuse - be warned

Postby meteorite » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:35 pm

Maryland, that charming state busily pushing the limits of the various laws governing the internet with their bodog.com case, is at it again. If you work there, or apply to do so, they want your Facebook address and password - now.

Here is how the daily Tech Support Newsletter explains the latest antic:
By Toni Bowers
March 13, 2012, 8:31 AM PDT

Another case that is attempting to define privacy in a world that is enamored of social media.

The next time you’re asked in an interview to name your greatest weakness, remember that it could be worse: Job seekers applying to Maryland’s Department of Corrections were asked for their Facebook logins and passwords.

After learning of this practice, the ACLU stepped in and put a stop to it. However, the folks in Maryland, somehow still unclear on the concept, then had job candidates log in to their Facebook accounts while the hiring manager peered over their shoulder as they perused everything behind their privacy settings.

The officials at the Maryland Department of Corrections said that they did this to make sure job candidates didn’t have any gang affiliations. The agency told the ACLU it had reviewed the social media accounts of 2,689 applicants and denied employment to seven because of items found on their pages. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water and all that.

When I used to advise people to be careful what they put into social media, I’d always temper that with telling them to at least put sensitive things behind a privacy wall (if you can keep up with Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings). But I guess even that doesn’t hold water, as you can see in this blog that shows an image of a job application (for a clerical position) that comes right out and asks for social media logins and passwords. Scary stuff.

So far if anything like this has taken place in Canada, it has not come to public notice - though given the government we have in Ottawa it is likely only a matter of time. And how effective the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, or privacy ombudsmen such as Ontario's Ann Cavoukian can be, seems to be still a bit of a gamble.

About the only advice that can be offered is this: if you absolutely cannot live without Facebook, privacy settings or no, do not put anything on it that you would not be happy to have your boss, present or future, read. Because sooner or later, he or she likely will. "Internet" and "privacy" have pretty well become mutually exclusive terms.
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