pitfalls of disclosing too much in your social network profiles, especially when it comes to employers accidentally stumbling over your party pictures on Facebook and MySpace. The city of Bozeman, Montana, however, is taking this to a new level by actually asking prospective employees to disclose not just that they have profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, Google, and YouTube, but by also asking for the usernames and passwords for these profiles.We have written quite a bit about the
Update: Due to the public outcry about this policy, the City of Bozeman has now decided to halt its controversial policy of asking prospective employees for their login credential.
From the City's press release:
Effective at 12:00 p.m. today, Friday June 19, 2009, the City of Bozeman permanently ceased the practice of requesting candidates selected for City positions under a provisional job offer to provide user names and passwords for the candidate's internet sites.
In addition, until further notice, the City will suspend its practice of reviewing candidate's password protected internet information until the City conducts a more comprehensive evaluation of the practice.
The form (PDF) is a standard waiver that allows the city to perform a background check, which is obviously a routine procedure, but in addition, the city asks prospective employees to "please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc." The form provides three lines for entering this information.
A local Montana TV station picked this story up after receiving an anonymous tip about this requirement. We can see why the City would be interested in this information, but obviously, this raises serious privacy concerns. According to city attorney Greg Sullivan, who was interviewed by the local TV news station, the city has "positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here. So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City."
According to Sullivan, the City won't look at "the things that the federal constitution lists as protected things," but we find it hard to believe that somebody with full access to a user's profile would be able to completely overlook all the information in those profiles, including ethnicity and religious affiliation, that simply shouldn't play a role in the hiring process but could easily influence a hiring manager.
Sullivan also states that nobody ever removed his or her name because of this requirement, but we wonder how many applicants just decided not to apply for these positions because they preferred not to disclose this information.
Do you think the City has the right to ask for this information? Would you give it to them if you wanted to apply for a job there? Or have you seen a similar requirement when you applied for a job? Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments.