I've long since given up trying to understand things like who thought up Pet Rocks or why people eat sweetbreads. I'm pretty sure, though, something I read today will have me scratching my head for a long time to come.
ReadWriteWeb is reporting that applicants for jobs with the City of Bozeman, Montana, are expected to provide information about any social networking sites they're a part of, complete with passwords. Let me say right off the bat that I understand new pre-employment policies that request pointers to a personal Web site, Facebook or MySpace page. Personally, I think teasing out information from the vast Internet about prospective employees ought to be the responsibility of Human Resources, but I can also argue that it's more efficient to just ask people to provide it. But passwords? You have to be kidding me.
Bozeman city officials claim they're simply doing a thorough background check to assure the people they hire "have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City." Fine, so go wild with credit reports, letters of reference, and blessings from the Pope if they want, but stay away from peoples' passwords.
Thinking only about the Web sites I use that they specifically request access to -- Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, and Yahoo -- I'm having trouble imagining giving anyone free reign to poke around any of it. What my Google search history holds, what I've watched on YouTube, or what my Facebook inbox contains is no one's business but my own.
It's not about having anything to hide -- because I don't. It's about a fundamental right to privacy and the expectation that what I do behind the walls of a passworded site is between me and a Web server. I fully grasp that any time you do something online, you run the risk it will become public information even you think it won't happen. I'll be darned, though, if I would willingly turn over the keys to my Internet exisitence to a random person when there isn't even the guarantee of a job in return.
What about you? Would you hand over passwords to your accounts in the off chance it might land you a job? And can someone please explain sweetbreads?
This story, "Reveal Your Facebook Password, Get a Job" was originally published by Computerworld.