Imagine being forced to choose between revealing your Facebook profile and password to your boss and missing out on a promotion. Which would you give up?
What if that choice was presented to you during a job interview and you were unemployed? Or perhaps instead of a job, you risked losing a scholarship?
Still, “forced” participation in 24/7 online monitoring programs or initiatives raise many of the same issues as profile examinations. The popular rationale cited for monitoring student-athletes to alert the university to behavior that might negatively impact their programs and their students’ futures are every bit as applicable to other students from scholarship recipients to members of fraternal organizations or student government. In addition, little distinguishes a university’s reputational concerns from those of other businesses.
Thus far, Delaware is the only state to come down firmly against the use of such measures in the educational sphere. In July, Delaware's Governor signed into law a bill that prevents schools above the K-12 level from mandating any form of “forced access” to private social media pages either by requesting passwords, forcing students to log in or "friend" administrators, or through the use of tracking software.
It’s important to note that popular, clearly defined spaces for online professional networking do exist. Sites like LinkedIn and Catchafire, allow jobseekers, volunteers, and employees to interact with companies in ways that allow for robust communication and presentation alongside other professionals while allowing organizations some means of assessing job applicants’ ability to conduct themselves online without resorting to coercive tactics.
Password protection and social networking privacy bills have been introduced in Congress and legislatures across the country in varying forms. With stories like Collins’ continuing to pop up across the country, the public would be wise to push legislators or government agencies to more clearly define the legal protections available to students and members of the workforce nationwide. Until that happens, online privacy could end up being just another thing that some folks can’t afford.
Another reason why being forced to install apps to your Facebook page is a problem? The FTC forced Facebook to admit that some “trusted” third party apps steal data they shouldn’t have access to. Also, the Sunlight Foundation’s “Scout” website is a great way to search for bills on social media from all 50 states and Congress.