Frankly, when there are no laws prohibiting institutions from requiring this information, it becomes a common practice. Social media sites have become a widespread communications tool – both personally and professionally – all across the world. It is erroneous to just say that if you don’t want your information accessed that you shouldn’t put it online. That ignores the basic fact of how widespread these websites and forums have become. We cannot go backward to a time before the internet existed – we can only go forward, and a legal framework should be in place to offer basic protections and rights. In addition, sites such as Facebook have privacy settings built in, and it is not the business of employers or educators to demand an individual relinquish these protections.
Several states, including New York, Illinois, and Maryland have begun to address this issue, but we need a federal statute to protect all Americans across the country. We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private. No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world.