Ars Technica earlier this week reported on the city council meeting in Bozeman, Montana. Normally, a relatively minor city like Bozeman wouldn’t rate an article with such a revered site. But Bozeman managed recently to make itself quite the laughingstock of The Web when it was discovered that application for employment with the city included a background check waiver that called for login account names *and* passwords to online sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and others. The story took off across The Web, and Bozeman city officials were inundated by emails condemning the application. Bureaucracy being what it is, nothing could be done until the next city council meeting, which took place on Monday, June 22. As Ars Technica reports, they quickly removed this “little item” from the application process, and released a report saying, among other things:
…[I]t had suspended the practice as of Friday, June 19 and that it would update its hiring procedures within 30 days to determine a more appropriate level of screening for employees.
It’s certainly of no concern to me that city HR departments become aware of such accounts. But they don’t need login access to see employees bad-mouthing their superiors. Most that would use such public platforms to express their views wouldn’t take the time to make them private. As far as I’m concerned, if you post something to your public Facebook page, Twitter account, etc, then you might as well grab a soapbox and scream it into your employer’s face. You can and should be held accountable for public comments like that.
But, hopefully, Bozeman’s city antics in this regard can help other bureaucracies to see the idiocy of policies like this.