Tech & Work

City wants job applicants to turn over Facebook user names and passwords

Officials in the city of Bozeman, Montana are asking job applicants to turn over their user names and passwords to social networking sites like Facebook as part of their background checks.

Officials in the city of Bozeman, Montana are asking job applicants to turn over their user names and passwords to social networking sites like Facebook as part of their background checks.

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Remember last week when you thought the worst of your job-hunting worries was answering the dreaded Where do you see yourself in five years question? Well, set aside that beef because there's a new interviewing element in town (well, in one town at least), and it's ugly.

A town once called the "All-America City," Bozeman, Montana, has taken an interesting tack when it comes to background checks on job candidates. According to cbsnews.com:

The Rocky Mountain city instructs all job applicants to divulge their usernames and passwords for "any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc." Bozeman city officials say that this is just a component of a thorough background check.

Chuck Winn, Bozeman's assistant city manager, was quoted as saying,

"Shame on us if there was information out there available about a person who applied for a job who was a child molester or had some sort of information out there on the Internet that kind of showed those propensities and we didn't look for it, we didn't ask, and we hired that person. In many ways we would have let the public down."

Though the handing over of such personal and confidential information is not required, the Bozeman group says that if you claim something on your application and they later find out you lied, you will be fired.

The legal community weighs in

Kevin Bankston, an attorney, said, "Essentially they're conditioning your application for employment on your waiving your First Amendment rights ... and risking the security of your information by requiring you to share your password with them... Where does it stop? How about a photocopy of your diary?"

Wow. Remind me never to apply for a job in Bozeman. What do you guys think of this turn of events, and will it catch on elsewhere?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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