Want a state job in Maryland? Hand over your Facebook password

facebook reviewAccording to the Washington Post, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services wants to include your Facebook account in its background check. Corrections officer Robert Collins was asked for his account login and password so the department could be sure he had nothing to hide, which Collins apprehensively offered up. And then he had to sit through every job applicant’s nightmare and watch his interviewer scroll through the contents of his Facebook account.

It’s a well known fact that potential employers skim your Facebook profile for any red flags – you know, any tagged photos or Wall posts showcasing exceptional debauchery. And if you aren’t smart enough to exercise your account’s privacy options or detag any alcohol-drenched images of yourself, then you deserve the job rejection. But when your interviewer actually asks for your login? Some boundaries are being overstepped.

Earlier this year, Dawnmarie Souza was fired from her job after posting complaints about her boss to Facebook outside of the office. Souza and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sued her former employer, and recently settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. The NLRB determined last year that Souza’s termination for her Facebook activity violated her First Amendment Rights.

So you can only imagine how quickly the Maryland state agency is backpeddling on this one. Collins, who was already employed by the department and simply seeking recertification, contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately after the incident. The ACLU has taken up Collins plight and after three weeks has yet to receive a response as to whether or not the policy will be permanently terminated. For the moment, the state’s Department of Public Safety has suspended the procedure for 45 days for internal review. The department claims it has always asked for login information on a voluntary basis, although Collins maintains “I understood the investigator to be saying that I had…to hand over my Facebook login and password.” Apparently the practice began last year as a means to screen for gang affiliation.

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