The Independent

Public vs. private

Social Media
Social Media
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Social Media Invaders

Securing a job is getting a little personal. Apparently some government agencies are demanding to see applicants' Facebook and Twitter pages. That's right. Demanding. Maryland's Department of Corrections has asked job applicants to log onto their accounts and surf through while an interviewer watches. Anything that was previously private can be open to an employer's hungry eyes. While a Facebook check is voluntary, job seekers may comply out of fear that their chances of getting a job may be weakened if they don't allow the search.

Similarly, college athletes are also being subjected to social media invasion. In many schools, like the University of North Carolina, athletes must friend a coach or other authority figure as a requirement to be part of a team. If students don't comply, they're in violation of school code and can't play sports. Everyone is entitled to have private space. Thirty years ago, that might have been a journal, but in today's world your "private space" is on the World Wide Web. That shouldn't make it any less personal. Carving out a space as your own and granting a select group of people access to that space is your right. No one should bum-rush what is yours.

It's amazing that some entities feel entitled to view your personal space. That's the equivalent of rummaging through your nightstand or your underwear drawer. It's an invasion of privacy, plain and simple. It is oft said that there should to be a separation of church and state. What about a separation of public and private life? If there are aspects of yourself that you wish to have on display for the world's pleasure, that should be your business and your choice. No one should make you feel obligated to reveal photos or posts that would otherwise be open only to friends. A criminal background check should be enough. Facebook wasn't always around and employers certainly didn't stalk your doorstep waiting for a naked baby picture to come floating out the window. Living in a social media-crazed world shouldn't change anything. But maybe it's the "crazed" part that makes people think they have a right to view everything. I can't imagine being interviewed and having some "suit" hunched over my shoulder staring at photos of my friends or my grandmother. A major line has been crossed when that becomes standard.

Thankfully, not everyone agrees with blatant spying. Maryland legislators are proposing two bills that forbid employers and universities from accessing someone's social media account. The bill aimed at universities would also keep a student from being forced to friend an administrator. That's a step in the right direction. It's important that our rights are upheld at all times across all avenues.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:17 PM EDT | More details

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