There were two interesting Facebook related stories over the weekend. The first involved a Spanish Dominican nun who was asked to leave the order, after 35 years, for supposedly spending too much time on Facebook.
The second involved the Maryland Department of Corrections asking a prospective employee to provide it with his Facebook username and password so that it could check his posts (and those of his friends and family).
Quite what business it is of the Maryland Department of Corrections or any other employer what someone writes or receives on Facebook is hard to guess. Would the people asking for these details also ask employees for access to their voicemails or the right to listen in to their phone calls at home and install CCTV in their homes? I hope not.
The fact is that all of us have a personal and a public life. What we do at work should have little, if any bearing, on what we say or do at home (unless it involves criminal behaviour, either at home or at work). Employers may legitimately seek to restrict workers' access to Facebook during work hours but they have no rights once the working day is over.
Put it another way, if we substituted the Maryland Department of Corrections with the Egyptian government or the Libyan government (or the Catholic church for that matter), how many of us would think it was an acceptable thing to ask of anyone?
This was first published in February 2011