Your papers Facebook password please

“Freedom to starve is no freedom sir.”

Sgt. Harper: Sharpe Rifles 1993

When you live your life online people what to know what exactly is hiding behind that password:

Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information.

and if they don’t ask for passwords they want to be your friend:

In Spotsylvania County, Va., the sheriff’s department asks applicants to friend background investigators for jobs at the 911 dispatch center and for law enforcement positions.

“In the past, we’ve talked to friends and neighbors, but a lot of times we found that applicants interact more through social media sites than they do with real friends,” said Capt. Mike Harvey. “Their virtual friends will know more about them than a person living 30 yards away from them.”

Now if you were talking a job in a prison or something that requires a government security clearance, this wouldn’t be so odd, but times being what they are employers are in the catbird seat and it’s going to be hard for a guy who needs a job to say “no” to something like this.

Lori Andrews, law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law specializing in Internet privacy, is concerned about the pressure placed on applicants, even if they voluntarily provide access to social sites.

“Volunteering is coercion if you need a job,” Andrews said.

Before I went full-time with the blog/show as a job I wondered if the blog might have hindered a job search in Massachusetts but I’ve always worn my politics in plain view.

Just remember as I’ve said many times before, the internet is forever, and what you put online on Facebook or elsewhere is only as private as the person who likes you least among your circles chooses to keep it.

Update: Forgot to hat tip Via Arclight and Matt Cornell on Twitter.

Update 2: Commentator Foible offers some insight worth promoting to the main post:

Think that photo from Burning Man is safe because your name isn’t on it? Maybe that was true when you posted it but facial recognition software or facebook tagging will connect it to you soon enough. Do you use an alias on some blogs? Patterns of word use can be used to match up different online personas.

When I want privacy over the internet I use encryption, OpenPGP is the package I’ve installed for my email. No matter what end of the political spectrum you reside on, I strongly recommend using some form of encryption to protect your first amendment rights.