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Employers request password access to Twitter, Facebook profiles

Courtesy of Facebook

Students have been warned about being conscious of what they post on Facebook, but as a recent incident in Michigan proved, employers are taking it to the next level.

In some career fields, it might be common practice for employers to use social networks as part of their hiring process. A great weekend in Tahiti might cost you your job if you decide to post that awesome time you had with the beer bong. Your personal privacy can even be compromised if you decide to send a private message to your friend about how much you hate your boss.

Kimberly Hester, a teacher’s aide, is fighting for her rights after being fired from Frank Squires Early Elementary School in Cassopolis, Mich., after refusing to release her Facebook password, according to multiple media reports.

Hester jokingly posted a photo, on her own time, of a coworker’s pants around her ankles along with a pair of shoes with the caption, “Thinking of You.”

A parent who was Facebook friends with Hester saw the photo and complained.

The incident led to an unpaid administrative leave and suspension, which eventually prompted Hester to file a lawsuit against the school district, according to reports.

“I stand by it. I did nothing wrong. And I would not and still to this day let them in my Facebook,” she said. “And I don’t think its OK for an employer to ask you.”

Some students said they would consider shutting down their Facebook if employers asked for such information.

“It’s an invasion of privacy. Asking for my passwords does not say if I am qualified for the job. What matters is my experience,” said Eduado Calzadilla, a third-year in material science and engineering.

Some OSU students said they consider the situation unethical and would reconsider applying for the job. Others would need time to think about it.

Alex Khadr, a second-year in business marketing, said it would depend on the company for which he is applying. If the job is important, releasing his password would be something to think about. But he said he should have a right to choose.

“It shouldn’t be forced,” Khadr said.

Passwords are often the only barrier between the user and your personal information. Neither Ohio nor federal laws have a privacy law that prohibits the employer’s request for private information on social networks.

Camille Hébert, a law professor at Moritz College of Law, said there is no law that speaks to this and the law is “always, always” behind on technology. She said the courts just recently ruled on a case involving a nearly obsolete form of technology.

“The Supreme Court just ruled on a case dealing with pagers.” Hébert said.

Hébert said she thinks the situation is unethical, and employers should have no rights to that type of information if it’s not work-related.

“Most employers have no business to ask,” she said.

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