Facebook passwords fair game for colleges and government agencies

Posted by admin on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Imagine. You're applying for shit. And you're ever-so-stoked about the possibility of  landing that sa-weet scholarship that's going to make (at least another semester at) your dream school actually-almost-semi-decently-affordable.  

You've filled out 50980 forms (roughly). You've gone to endless pointless office hours and kissed endless professor ass this semester to guarantee they'll actualllllly know who you are when you request that letter of recommendation. And, naturally, you've also written a tearjerker of an essay that is somehow just so simultaneously soul-crushing YET INSPIRING that if it's not scholarship material, well, clearly there's a blind and deaf paraplegic--with severe eczema, maybe chronic whooping cough and perhaps a pegleg...that's rotting--in the running. Who MIGHT have deserved it more.

You press your suit, you spit-shine the shit out of your fancy shoes and you head to your interview, where you proceed to wow them with tales of the summer you spent volunteering at an orphanage, the time you gave a senior citizen CPR at HEB and the kitten you saved from a tree during your last shift as a volunteer firefighter.

You are IN and that scholarship is YOURS.

But thennn...they ask you for your Facebook password.


See it turns out that when you weren't saving orphans in Somalia that summer, you were smoking pot with your friends. And why were you at the grocery store on the fateful afternoon Grandma needed a little excess oxygen? You were buying a couple of cases of Keystone...with your fake ID. And there's a slight chance you also took pics pretending to hump the kitten Hangover-guy-with-the-tiger-style...and made it your profile picture back in March of 2010. And again in January 2012 for good measure. It was....funny?

It's all fun and games until they see what his "interests" include...

So CAN they do this? As an applicant for a scholarship CAN colleges and scholarship providers demand you fork over your passwords so they can see what you're doing/saying/thinking at any given time?

Well, they can...and they are. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that roughly 3/4 of providers "are looking for behavior that could reflect badly on the scholarship provider, such as underage drinking, provocative pictures, illegal drug use or racial slurs." This has led to about 1/3 of applicants then being DENIED said scholarship because of what's found.

And it doesn't stop there. Some government agencies are also instituting this practice. So if you laugh in the face of Facebook threats and try to stick it to the man by taking a pic of yourself lighting up stoner-style because you don't need that scholarship (and then make that your status), well...hope you aren't also trying to get a job with...say...the Maryland Department of Corrections, who makes applicants log on in front of them.

Well. That's fun. And although there are some bills trying to fight the power, like one last month intro'd in the Illinois legislature  that would ban employers from demanding passwords, for now...you're potentially screwed.

So yeah. Put down the pipe and stop dry-humping kittens.

Or at least stop posting about it.


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