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Turning Over Passwords

By Steve Jones,

Recently I noticed an article about Bozeman, Montana, and the requirements for job applicants. Apparently if you were applying for a city job in Bozeman, until recently, you had to turn over the credentials for your social networking profiles in order to be considered. City officials held a meeting recently to discuss this and ended the policy.

The fact that anyone thinks this is acceptable is amazing to me. Asking for someone's online sites is one thing; their credentials crosses a line. In today's world where so often we find data being lost, stolen, or disclosed to others, this is an extremely bad policy. Not just for the privacy implications that it imposes on job applicants, but because it creates a huge liability for the city itself. Can you imagine if someone's account were accessed and something malicious posted to the account? I know I'd sue the city.

Actually I wouldn't because I' d never give out my user name and password. I might disclose that I have a presence on various sites, but that would be all. That is all that should be needed to investigate someone's background. In what other way would you need to investigate them? Do you need to see that their friends are posting? No, you don't need to. That is an unreasonable breech of someone's privacy.

I give a presentation on your modern resume and online profiles, and in there I tell people that you need to manage their profiles. While I completely disagree with the demand, or even request to get all your profiles, I do think you need to manage your online presence, and you ought to be able to "explain" any profiles you keep online.

You are the sum of all your parts, and while not all of them are necessarily the business of your employer, the lines are blurring as to which are and are not. Conduct yourself in a professional manner online and you'll have nothing to worry about.

Steve Jones


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