Employers Destroying Privacy
There was an Associated Press article today about job applicants being forced to share their Facebook log ins and/or email log ins.
The solution can be as simple as lying to your potential employer/current employer or even deactivating your account. It shouldn’t come to that.The burden of lying or deceiving the employer shouldn’t be placed on the person interviewing. The burden shouldn’t exist period. Of course, we can all get around it.
The email issue is fairly straight forward. When you have your financial life and personal life connected to your email, it is not the business of your workplace. They shouldn’t have access to all your financial records and/or your personal/private interactions with family/friends/business. The social networking issue is a tad more gray.
There are laws preventing questions about marriage, children, sexual orientation, etc., but the moment you allow someone into your FB account, you give that up. Even if you don’t list it, they can determine it from your messages, photos, posts, etc. Any information shared between friends, family, and spouses that would otherwise be legally protected would be compromised. It violates privacy of everyone connected to your account.
While it is easy to say that a person should get off of Facebook, it’s a big issue in reality. With people changing addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc., it’s hard to keep track of everyone. When it comes time to planning reunions, weddings, births, funerals, etc., it’s a clearing house for information. I can’t tell you the number of close friends who didn’t have my exact address when it came time to mail me invitations. I can’t tell you the number of times I was informed of funerals and obituaries by postings. I don’t have time to read the papers of every single town that my friends/family reside in to check obituaries. My high school reunion was planned exclusively online.
People simply don’t use pen, paper, landlines, and the post office anymore. I joined Facebook as a college student in 2003. It has documented my life for the last 9 years. While I can download all that data into a file, the whole issue is that it’s a shared experience. My privacy settings are extraordinarily high because of issues like this article. If you’re the sentimental type, memories and stories are kept alive by sharing them over and over. When you stop sharing, the memories and stories fade with your memory. Social networking keeps them alive even when your memory fades and you have actively stopped sharing (changes in life, end of friendship, death, etc.). What’s the point of life if you can’t enjoy the moments you had?
The sad truth is that the Department of Justice, the government, and Supreme Court won’t define privacy because they never have. The whole abortion issue in the United States is over the definition of privacy. The article itself stated that government agencies often ask for the information. The government doesn’t want to protect your privacy. They want all the information they can get. It’s the same reason why the NSA is building a heavily fortified $2 billion data center to monitor everything on the internet.
The only hope is to push back against individual employers and say no. Then we need to push legislation to specifically forbid the demand of social networking log in and data from employers. Any broadly written bill would be shot down. It’s a battle we have to fight or else our privacy as well as the privacy of our friends and family will be compromised when our 15 year old nephew applies for a part time job at McDonald’s.