There are no privacy settings

In an age where the definitions of privacy and security have undergone a dramatic change, one question has arisen: Who or what has the ability to force a user to give up their social media usernames and passwords?

It’s no secret that some companies search social media networks for the profiles of prospective employees, but recently some companies have even started asking applicants for the usernames and passwords to their profiles.

Where is the line drawn? Facebook is a major subject of concern. It’s my personal opinion that not even parents should ask their children for their usernames or passwords.

Sure, they can force their children to remove posts from their profile or prevent them from logging on by blocking access to the Internet, but forcing them to give up their information amounts to hacking.

Posts on Facebook belong to the user and are therefore his or her property, especially the posts marked as private.

When someone views what the user has decided not to share publicly, it can be deemed an “invasion of privacy.”

The user has an expectation of privacy. In labeling certain photo albums, messages or tweets as private, no contract has been made between the user and Facebook that grants permission for those things to be seen by anyone else.

In a school in Minnewaska, Minn., administrators and a local deputy allegedly coerced a 12-year-old girl to give up her Facebook password so they could check if she was having sexual relations with a boy from another school. They did this without the consent of her parents, who are now suing. Charles Samuelson, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, whose office is representing the girl, released in a statement, “Students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the school house gate.”

The fear for companies is very real because it only takes a simple tweet or Facebook post to cause a media nightmare.

We’ve all heard the stories of the senator who tweeted an inappropriate picture, or the guy who got fired for calling in sick to work and then posting pictures of the party he attended when he was supposed to be at home. We’ve even heard the story of the serial killer who was caught because he kept updating his Facebook.

Facebook has even brought down a cartel leader. An Italian mobster was caught thanks, in part, to his Moroccan girlfriend because she uploaded a picture in front of a restaurant and unknowingly gave away the location of their hidden mansion.

Social media, like all forms of technology, should be taken with a grain of salt. There are a few things that every user has to remember. A post is not like spoken word. Once it’s posted there’s a record of it, and that can haunt you later on. Be careful what you put on the internet, because it has the memory of an elephant.

Alejandro Caballero is a creative writing junior and may be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment

  • It is nothing short of an invasion of privacy for companies to require applicants and employees to give up their username and passwords. I see nothing wrong with employers researching their applicants or employees, but isn't that the whole purpose of a private account? Many people have posts they wouldn't want read by their parents or employers. Luckily, facebook has this privacy setting where people can make their profiles private and even make posts only viewable by certain users. If people are going to post inappropriate things, they have the right to do so, but as long as they cover their tracks, they should not be penalized for doing so. Furthermore, the employer in this case would have access to private messages and other things NOT viewable by the public. This is exactly the same as employers being given access to my phone records, my mail records, and my bank statements.

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