Today the blog is going national. As in I have chosen to write about something causing a serious dust-up nationally: the Facebook password controversy.
What am I speaking about? The news reports and ensuing discussion about employers in this country asking potential new hires for their e-mails and passwords to their Facebook accounts. Are they kidding us? Apparently not.
ABC News: Demanding Facebook Passwords May Break Law, Say Senators
By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern) March 26, 2012
It’s become standard practice for employers and schools to peruse potential applicants’ Facebookprofiles. But in some cases, they are going even further: Some have demanded applicants hand over their passwords so they can view individual’s restricted profiles.
Justin Basset is just one of those individuals. Basset was finishing up a job interview, according to the Associated Press, when he was asked to hand over his Facebook login information after the interviewer couldn’t locate his profile on the site.
Others have reported similar situations, in which employers, potential employers, or colleges have asked for Facebook passwords so they can inspect people’s profiles.
Wow. Would they like to look in our underwear drawers too? (My bras are a little messy, yo.) This is an insane invasion of privacy, and it happens all the time. Take for example certain requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act that contain post-employment look-back provisions. It’s all very Big Brother, but the long and short of it is under this provision (and it’s in the Dodd-Frank Act
) , employers and former employees are wed to each other for like five years. But what really isn’t in there is HOW this look-back is supposed to be accomplished is it? Seriously, if someone has left a company and doesn’t want to be found, how do you find them if they aren’t out there on the web with a LinkedIn page or whatever without
violating their privacy?
So am I surprised by this Facebook thing? Nope. Would I comply with such a request? Nope. And neither should you. People try to overstep every day.
I did not do Facebook for years, and when I set up my page a couple of years ago, I decided I liked having privacy settings active. That, however, has chafed with people who know of me but don’t know me.
There is a group on the Main Line that a lot of my contemporaries refer to collectively as “The Mean Girls of Bala.” They aren’t all from Bala Cynwyd, but a lot of them are. In essence, if you are different from them in any way it is way too much for them to handle. I became aware of them through local politics. I am a Republican. The majority of them are Democrats. I am not the most conservative of the conservatives, and find myself for the most part, politically in the middle. You know, like the majority of people in this country? I am also fairly independent in my thinking. They can’t handle that.
Anyway, this crew can and does bully. Especially verbally. They are ironically, a collective of nobodies that you would pass in the grocery store without a pause. But they are mean. Take for example a couple of years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor about snow removal. Truthfully, it was about the lack of snow removal. They sprang into action in the comments several ad hominem attacks. And they did it all with pen names. They don’t like me, don’t like my opinion, yet they can’t roll up like big girls under their own names. Truthfully, as someone who has been a community activist, you learn to expect this. It’s all about quieting the voices that might shock and horrors make you think. They went so far this one time that people commented about the newspaper company allowing comments that most considered harassing and defamatory. And truthfully, they are a group that have been vile to others I know. (And adults wonder sometimes where kids learn about bullying?)
As a related aside, this is why, for example, I cheer on the residents of West Vincent fighting for better government – they are subjected to this garbage in their own community.
Whatever. I chose not to engage with this crew. A couple of centuries ago, they would have been the ones tying people up to burn at the stake as witches. So flash forward to a few months ago. I used to be on this community board on Facebook that is one of those “private” boards – as in only those in the group can see the content. I participate on a few of these boards, but I keep my Facebook privacy settings the same. What I did not realize is that if you have people blocked, they can’t see your comments.
The moderator of the board contacted me with a message forwarded from one of the Mean Girls:
We are both members of [redacted] Lower Merion Community group on facebook. I realized recently that I can’t see any of your comments or postings. Perhaps because your facebook account is somehow blocking me from seeing. As it is a community group and you are someone who clearly believes in the free exchange of ideas I wonder if you would be good enough to check your facebook settings and allow me to see your posts and comments in this group?
Of course what the sender did not realize when she forwarded the message is that she also forwarded other bits of conversation about me including this whole ludicrous thread about me “hiding posts” from them. So pardon me if as an adult, I can choose whom I interact with, right?
It was nice to know the privacy settings were working properly, however. I eventually chose to opt out of this group, partially because more of this crew kept complaining to the administrator that my privacy settings kept them away from me and my comments, and I found it slightly bothersome. Although the page administrator never asked me outright to change my privacy settings to accommodate these people, it was more than implied. I wasn’t comfortable with that, and found the obsessiveness of these people when it comes to me downright odd. Being on a page, even semi-private does not mean you should be obligated to change your privacy settings. The two are not mutually exclusive. I don’t care for them and they feel likewise, yet I am supposed to just open it all up for their comfort levels and in the end probably just grist for their gossip mills? I don’t think so.
After all, no matter, how openly you live your life, that is a matter of personal choice. If you choose to share things with people, that is one thing. Being bullied or compelled to do so is entirely another.