At Kiwi Commons, we’re always warning young people to be careful when they post on social media. Nothing has changed in that regard, potential employers and college admissions boards are still stalking your Facebook history and judging you based on what you’ve posted online. Yes, even those pictures where you’re doing the ‘gang signs’.
But here’s something you might not have considered: some colleges and employers are now demanding applicants hand over their social media passwords if they want to be considered for that special school or job.
That’s right. So the next time you or anyone in your family considers using social media as a diary, or as a medium to reveal deep secrets and express wild thoughts, you might advise them to think again. It’s just not a good idea.
Bob Sullivan of MSNBC writes, “In Maryland, job seekers applying to the state’s Department of Corrections have been asked during interviews to log into their accounts and let an interviewer watch while the potential employee clicks through wall posts, friends, photos and anything else that might be found behind the privacy wall.”
In his blog, Mr. Sullivan points out that in 2011 Tecca.com showed an image of an application for a job with a North Carolina police department that included the following question:
“Do you have any web page accounts such as Facebook, Myspace, etc.? If so, list your username and password.”
And that’s not all. “Student-athletes in colleges around the country also are finding out they can no longer maintain privacy in Facebook communications because schools are requiring them to “friend” a coach or compliance officer, giving that person access to their “friends-only” posts,” writes Mr. Sullivan.
Here’s a quote from a recent revision to the University of North Carolina’s handbook for students. It’s a striking policy that may soon be adopted by other schools:
“Each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of team members’ social networking sites and postings,” it reads. “The athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes’ posts.”
If that doesn’t turn your blood cold and make you re-think everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook, there’s more: schools are now turning to social media monitoring companies–which must be booming these days–like UDiligence and Varsity Monitor to source out all this Facebook stalking to automated software.
With these programs, a ‘reputation scorecard’ keeps tabs of a young athlete’s online activities for coaches to monitor and alerts compliance officers when a student’s ‘threat level’ rises due to inappropriate online shenanigans.
So how do social media sites like Facebook feel about these latest breaches of user privacy by potential employers or schools? Probably not great, considering they happen to be against Facebook’s own Terms of Service:
“You will not share your password…let anyone else access your account or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”
It’s all a bit scary and confusing at the moment for social media users who want to have fun on Facebook and Twitter but don’t want to spoil future opportunities for themselves.
So while a lack of respect for online privacy persists among some employers and A-list schools, it’s probably best to tread lightly on social media and post to a wider audience than you may have originally planned. After all, you never know who’s looking.
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