The city of Bozeman has requested that candidates provide their username and passwords for social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. The application asks that candidates "list any and all current personal or business Web sites, 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," reports The Associated Press.
The city told the AP that they have requested the password and username information to verify employee information to conduct background checks, and that the city will not use any information against potential candidates nor will they disregard applicants who choose not to submit their login information.
More recruiters are using the Internet to conduct background checks on potential employees. In a September 2008 CareerBuilder survey of 31,000 employers, 22 percent said they use social networking sites to evaluate candidates and 9 percent said they planned on using social networks to screen candidates.
The new job screening process is drawing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. In the AP story, Amy Cannata of the ACLU of Montana, says the procedure is similar "to them saying they want to look at your love letters and your family photos." She says "the policy certainly crosses the privacy line."
Since the application policy has been released, Bozeman City Attorney Greg Sullivan said in The Daily Chronicle that the policy may change – instead of asking applicants for login information, applicants would be required to "friend" officials on Facebook so the city could see the individual's profile, for example.
Still, the ACLU is concerned that hiring managers with access to personal information such as one's religious preference or relationship status, could negatively impact a person's shot at obtaining a job offer.
Update: After a lot of chatter and criticism last week, the city of Bozeman, Mont., decided to waive the request for social networking usernames and passwords from job applicants. For more information, read the follow-up article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
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