By BJ Bjornson
I wish I could say this was unbelievable, but unfortunately I can see it as being far too common, and with an increasingly bleak outlook for those entering the workforce, the likelihood is that it will only get worse rather than better.
If you think privacy settings on your Facebook and Twitter accounts guarantee future employers or schools can't see your private posts, guess again.
Employers and colleges find the treasure-trove of personal information hiding behind password-protected accounts and privacy walls just too tempting, and some are demanding full access from job applicants and student athletes.
In Maryland, job seekers applying to the state's Department of Corrections have been asked during interviews to log into their accounts and let an interviewer watch while the potential employee clicks through wall posts, friends, photos and anything else that might be found behind the privacy wall.
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Student-athletes in colleges around the country also are finding out they can no longer maintain privacy in Facebook communications because schools are requiring them to "friend" a coach or compliance officer, giving that person access to their �friends-only� posts. Schools are also turning to social media monitoring companies with names like UDilligence and Varsity Monitor for software packages that automate the task. The programs offer a "reputation scoreboard" to coaches and send "threat level" warnings about individual athletes to compliance officers.
A recent revision in the handbook at the University of North Carolina is typical:
"Each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of team members� social networking sites and postings,� it reads. "The athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes� posts."
Now, I�m not all that impressed by Facebook�s privacy record in the first place, or Google�s after their latest changes, but this kind of thing is just beyond the pale. And I don�t care how �voluntary� they claim such things are. The mere threat that refusal to turn over or allow access means you get removed from consideration for employment or other activities is more than enough to make this a case of undue influence.
Hopefully these policies will get reversed, but it a measure of how far we�ve come that such a clear invasion of privacy would even be considered acceptable in the first place.