Reporters' Roundtable: Can an employer ask for your Facebook password?

What do you do if an employer asks to see your personal social network? We discuss with Bob Sullivan, author of the Red Tape Chronicles on MSNBC.

Social-network users have an expectation that their views of their networks are theirs alone, that there is a private side to the public persona. But to get some jobs or scholarships, that expectation is thrown to the wind. What's truly private in a networked world?

Recently, reports have popped up about potential employees being required to divulge their personal social-network passwords or let hiring managers view their account. Some college sports players have to let "compliance officers" into their online social worlds.

What can a hiring manager or school reasonably ask of a person when it comes to monitoring their online social life? And where can, or should, a person draw the line? On this Roundtable, we discuss the topic with Bob Sullivan, author of the Red Tape Chronicles for MSNBC.


Discussion points

New! Time markers indicate where the topic is discussed on the video.

[1:45] Genesis of the Facebook password privacy flap.

[3:00] The Robert Collins case (applicant for a job at Maryland Dept. of Corrections).

[4:00] The situation with college sports players.

[5:30] Reviewing the Harriton High School Webcam spying case.

[6:20] Why schools are afraid of social networks.

[7:00] What expectation should employees have on online privacy?

[8:00] Social analytics can work even without users' passwords.

[8:45] Doesn't employment law already protect us enough from snooping?

[10:00] Different privacy laws in Europe and elsewhere

[10:45] What's the future of privacy legislation in the U.S?

[11:45] What advice do we have for people on this topic?

[13:20] Sullivan's answer: Keep your Facebook profile boring. Or drop off the grid.

[14:35] Discussing the "digital tattoo." Also: Your interviewer goes off on a rant.

[16:00] Why the formulas for credit scores and social analytics are secrets.

[16:50] What does Facebook say about this issue?

[17:45] The legal dangers to employers if they acquire user passwords or read social profiles. What if a compliance officer had access to Yeardley Love's profile?

[19:00] What is this job, "compliance officer?" What is the state of the moral monitoring of employees?

[21:00] What's next, and wrap-up.

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