An employer asks an employee for his Facebook username and password in order to be re-certified by the Maryland Dept. of Corrections. Big implications here and the ACLU is getting involved, but beyond the gut reaction “hell no, I’ll see you in court” response, there is a bigger issue here…
Though Facebook is the most popular social network amongst business users, they are still skeptic on how their employees use it. There have been several incidents where employees have been fired because their Facebook updates have been considered to be offensive/ unsuitable by their employers. This never-ending debate got re-ignited last week when Officer Robert Collins, a Maryland resident was forced to reveal his Facebook credentials during a recertification interview with the Maryland Division of Corrections (DOC).
Collin’s case is being pursued by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which subsequently sent a letter (PDF) to Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard on behalf of Collins, demanding an explanation of why it’s seeking social network account usernames and passwords for employee background checks.
link: Should Businesses Be Allowed To Know Their Employees Facebook Credentials? | Smedio | The New Media and Social Web Guide for Business and Marketers
I think this kind of request (as wrong as I think it is), is really about the blurring of the lines between “work” and “life”. A corrections officer is an interesting case where an employer could make the case that an employee who deals with sensitive security information needs to assure them that he isn’t doing anything to violate or compromise security. Understandable and a pretty niche case, however let’s look at a job that’s rather close to home: the Community Manager.
That’s right, me.
In my job the line between life and work is pretty blurred, and not just because being part of a start up and working crazy hours, it’s that a big part of “me” is tied into the job. Where is the line between my personal blog, personal Facebook page, this blog, and all the other social media footprints I have?
I’m not so naive to think that when I tweet something out under my personal account that it isn’t also associated with the company I’m a part of. Heck, I take full advantage of this and it was an important part in me being hired to do this job. But as blurred as the lines are, it doesn’t give my employer the right to get into my personal blog or Facebook account. In the end, there is a line between personal and private.
And that line is trust.
Beyond employees in high-security areas (that’s a complicated issue), companies have to just let go an give their employees a certain amount of trust. Equally important for employees is to not threaten that trust by posting confidential company information in public.
Yeah so are the rest of us. Welcome to the new world of naked society