Raising privacy and civil liberties issues, job applicants to the city of Bozeman are not only required to list all their social media accounts, but their passwords as well.
“Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, 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.,” the City form states. The application shows a space for passwords.
According to KBZK, the local news station, which said it was tipped to the requirement by an anonymous source, city attorney Greg Sullivan said this was required to ensure employees will protect the public trust. He also added that no applicant had removed their name from consideration due to the requirement.
“In order for us to get access to the chosen candidate’s information, we need to be able to view their page,” Sullivan said, according to a transcript of the interview. “And so that’s the way we’ve chosen to go about doing it. As far as we know, there’s no other way to get into their specific Face book page.”
That is, of course, incorrect—as the station’s reporter pointed out, the city of Bozeman could create its own page and ask applicants to link to it, which would give them access to their pages. Such ignorance of social networking creates troubling questions of what other mistakes could be made by handing over the passwords.
In addition to the privacy aspects—which would enable city employees to post items under the applicant’s name, and make or delete friends—some social networking sites consider passing on passwords to be a violation of their terms of service, which some judges have ruled is a criminal act.