Imagine you’re applying to your dream school. You have all the right grades, your essay is awesome — and then you get to the interview. You’re already nervous–and then your admissions officer demands to see your Facebook page.
WTF?! Not only do they want to look at your wall, they also want your password… Meaning they want to see everything. Those cute IMs you exchanged with your crush? Those semi-dirty inside jokes with your BFF? Those silly pics you took at the party last weekend (that you made sure not to tag and are friends only)? All accessible.
Talk about terrifying! And it’s becoming a reality.
MSNBC reports that not only colleges, but potential employers, are demanding access to students’ and employees’ Facebook accounts. If this seems like an insane invasion of privacy (seriously, it’s like someone reading your diary), that’s because it is.
On one hand, we can kinda see where they’re coming from in certain situations. For example, people applying to be prison guards were being asked for their Facebook info because their potential employers wanted to make sure they weren’t affiliated with gangs. Taking a glimpse at their photos to scan for gang symbols, colors, and the like could certainly help with that.
There are still so many problems with that, though: How many times have you done something in a photo as a joke? If a stranger looking at something doesn’t get the context of what went down, it can be really easy for them to misjudge you. Plus, it’s a slippery slope: What exactly constitutes a gang sign? Does wearing red or blue in your Facebook default pic disqualify you from a job?
You know it’s bad when even Facebook employees are against the policy, considering the site’s privacy policies are also scrutinized pretty often! “Under our terms, only the holder of the email address and password is considered the Facebook account owner,” Facebook spokesman Frederic Wolens said. “We also prohibit anyone from soliciting the login information or accessing an account belonging to someone else.”
Even if you’re not applying for jobs and are already in college, you may still be at risk for this kind of privacy invasion–especially if you play sports. Some colleges are requiring you to friend your coaches on Facebook or else be disqualified from the team. Say it with us now: WTF?!
The logic behind that, apparently, is that coaches want to make sure their athletes are well behaved. Fair enough, but where does it end? If their authority goes from the field to your Facebook account, what’s next? Installing a webcam in your dorm room to make sure you’re not acting out?
Thankfully, there are people out there fighting to keep your private life private. The American Civil Liberties Union is monitoring these cases very closely. In the meantime, know that you should never feel forced to fork over your account information for anything– email, Facebook, Twitter–or to anyone.
Also know that there are privacy settings you can use to keep things private even if a teacher, coach, or other authority figure friends you: You can make separate friends lists for them that limit their access to your information and postings while still technically having them listed as a friend. It also helps to create custom friends lists for just the people you trust and your closest pals–and make your posts visible only to them. The new Timeline feature on Facebook, while confusing at first, actually lets you adjust individual postings to be visible to certain groups of friends — even past posts — so that’s also a good tool to get to know.
Have you ever been asked to hand over your Facebook password? Would you be willing to give a potential employer your password if it meant getting a job? Do you have any privacy tips and tricks that you use to keep yourself and your information safe online? Let us know in the comments!