Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When Social Media Goes Wrong: Employers Ask for Your Logins, but Schools May Flat Out Stalk You

Your Facebook & Twitter Logins Look Delicious.We are all so obsessed over what’s going on in the social media world that we are constantly trying to find ways to electronically stalk each other.

No, seriously, if you aren’t being asked to “voluntarily” hand over the login for your Facebook account during a job interview, then there’s a pretty good chance that school officials are pressuring your child to hand over their coveted username and password.

Even if you’ve somehow managed to dodge those two bullets, there’s still a chance that exercising a colorful vocabulary on Twitter can result in finishing the homestretch of your high school career in an alternative school – like this senior in Indiana recently found out.

So what is with the sudden interest in social media accounts?

Well, employers who ask for social media logins cite their reasons being that they want to check to make sure you’re not affiliated with any gangs, illegal drug use, or any other questionable behavior that they don’t want employees of their company to be affiliated with.

Meanwhile, school officials defend their login requests by claiming they’re doing it to “prevent disruption” or, in the case of the expelled high school senior, punish those who allegedly use school computers to get into mischief.

Not that using your personal computer would necessarily spare you from getting into trouble.

The expelled high school senior claimed that the offending tweet was posted to his personal Twitter account at 2:30am from his personal home computer.  The school begged to differ, stating it was a school owned laptop that was used.

Regardless of what computer was actually used to post the tweet, the school’s principal stated that they have a monitoring system in place that tracks all of the tweets posted on a student’s Twitter account should they ever make the mistake of logging into Twitter on a school computer, taking things to a whole new level of creepy.

It appears that there seems to be a growing trend of not only violating the privacy of users, but a blatant disregard for the First Amendment (& sometimes the Fourth Amendment as well).

If you haven’t put a second thought into the information you put online – even if it’s tidbits of information that can be used to guess the answers to the security questions tied to your online accounts – then perhaps it’s time that you do.

And should an employer or school official attempt to ask that you - or your child - hand over your Facebook login information, you can simply state that it's against Facebook's Statements of Rights and Responsibilities to share your account login OR access an account belonging to someone else. Not only that, but two U.S. Senators are currently investigating whether or not they're violating two federal laws by asking.

What do you think about the growing trend of employers and schools asking for Facebook account logins? Do you use your school – or work – computers to login to your social media accounts? How would you feel if you found out your social media activity was being tracked after doing so?

Update 3/29: TechCrunch reports House Shoots Down Legislation That Would Have Stopped Employers From Demanding Your Facebook Password. Bummer.

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