Police Recruits Screened on Facebook
November 12, 2010
Police recruits screened for digital dirt on Facebook, etc.
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
Law enforcement agencies are digging deep into the social media accounts of applicants, requesting that candidates sign waivers allowing investigators access to their Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and other personal spaces.
Some agencies are demanding that applicants provide private passwords, Internet pseudonyms, text messages and e-mail logs as part of an expanding vetting process for public safety jobs.
More than a third of police agencies review applicants’ social media activity during background checks, according to the first report on agencies’ social media use by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the largest group of police executives. The report out last month surveyed 728 agencies.
“As more and more people join these networks, their activities on these sites become an intrinsic part of any background check we do,” said Laurel, Md., Police Chief David Crawford.
Privacy advocates say some background investigations, including requests for text message and e-mail logs, may go too far.
“I’m very uneasy about this,” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Where does it all stop?”
During the IACP’s conference last month in Orlando, about 100 chiefs and other law enforcement officials who attended sessions on vetting applicants’ social media use said they either request waivers and other personal information from applicants or are developing policies to do so.
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