Privacy Continues to Erode

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When it comes to Facebook, it seems everyone takes some caution.  Whether it is concern about what colleges might see, what your family could see, or just something you don’t want public on the internet, there is always the hesitation about
posting something.  We have all been told and reminded that the internet is forever and something that seems okay now could come back to hurt you in the future.  But in the end you know there are still some things there you wouldn’t necessarily want everyone to see.

This may create a problem when you discover that some employers are now asking prospective employees directly for their Facebook usernames and passwords, or that some businesses are checking out possible employees is by having job applicants “friend” a human resources account so that they can have access to the potential employee’s Facebook accounts that way.

“What could be on my Facebook that is that important?” This was the question posed by VHS senior Jordan Bronson when she heard about the situation. It’s a valid question – why have companies started doing this?

Employers claim that social networking sites can say a lot about a person and so taking a good look around is the easiest way to see who you could possibly be hiring. Many law enforcement agencies and public employers are asking for passwords to be able see if they can find any signs of gang affiliation or illegal activity. Typical recommendations are becoming a thing of the past as employers are keeping up with the times and learning more about their prospects by taking advantage of the fact that nowadays people do a lot more of their interacting online.

The real question about all this is whether it is legal. The answer right now isn’t so clear. Morally, asking for someone’s personal password seems wrong but as of right now is legal. Asking is not illegal but giving out and using someone else’s password is a violation of Facebook’s terms of service. Congress is currently trying to pass legislation to make such activity illegal but has not been successful yet.  They are realizing the challenges of writing laws to keep up with the evolution of technology. One law companies are flirting with breaking is the federal anti-discrimination law. When it comes to hiring, employers cannot simply dismiss someone based on age, gender, race or religion and these are things that can be revealed when looking into a person’s personal Facebook account.

Senior Colleen Carr said “I would delete my Facebook…just say I didn’t have one,” if she were faced with this situation. Her reaction is a common one.  Most VHS students see it as a complete invasion of privacy and would like to avoid it any way they can. But in this competitive job market some feel as if they have no choice but to succumb to these kinds of demands. Facebook itself is against such practices since it not only infringes on their terms of service but is a threat to its users, and therefore its business. Even though people can willingly give their passwords and therefore their information to anyone, in doing so they also are giving anyone the information of their friends and other contacts through Facebook, without their consent.

Overall this concept may be legal but the public views it as an invasion of privacy. Employers may find it necessary but applicants find it intrusive. In this ever -evolving technological world who knows what will be next.

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