Labor & Employment

Town Requires Job Seekers to Reveal Social Media Passwords


Editor’s Note: On June 22, Bozeman, Mont., authorities rescinded the controversial hiring policy. See the latest coverage here.

A human resources requirement by the city of Bozeman, Mont., that job applicants provide a host of personal information, including passwords to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, is creating a sensation online.

E-mail is fair game too, considering officials also ask for passwords to Google and Yahoo accounts.

Montana’s News Station, a CBS affiliated site, reports that they were tipped to the application process from an anonymous individual who was concerned about Bozeman’s background check policies.

According to the station, job seekers for Bozeman city posts are required to sign a background check waiver. In addition to allowing standard criminal records checks and past employment reviews, the applicant is required to do the following:

“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 then offers three lines for applicants to list websites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords, Montana News Station reports.

City Attorney Greg Sullivan is quoted as defending the policy: “We have positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here. So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the city.”

In a follow-up piece on the Bozeman HR requirements, the Montana News Station reports that, as a result of the story, Bozeman officials are receiving an e-mail a minute about the policy.

At the time the follow-up story was reported, more than 5,000 votes had been tallied in an online poll (IMAGE) about the issue. A whopping 98 percent say the policy is an invasion of privacy.

The city is reviewing the policy. And they may be speeding the effort now that Facebook has become aware of the city’s HR policy.

The information technology publication, The Register, quotes Facebook as saying the Bozeman policy “is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which received feedback from users and was ultimately approved in a site-wide vote.”

Facebook further indicated it would be in touch with Bozeman officials.

Also see:

Ars Technica: “City to job applicants: Facebook, MySpace log-ins please”

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