It is now obvious lots of states across the United States are rushing to make sure employers are not requesting for passwords to social media accounts of their workers or possible employees. The question whether the boss should access your Twitter or Facebook Timeline is always a tricky one, especially if you are of those people who have something to hide due to sexual, political and social posts on your timeline. Also, prospective bosses and school or college administrators are known to ask for passwords to social media accounts. This has become a full-blown legal debate.
One of the reasons why employers ask for these passwords is to sift through photos and personal messages posted on Facebook and Twitter to ascertain that there is no affiliations with criminal gangs, groups or criminal tendencies and confessions, especially for those entering law enforcement or department of corrections. The outcry on request for passwords has led a number of States to ban this request from employers for passwords and usernames; Maryland started the ban. In 2012, another six states banned the same with lots of bills expected to ban the same in more than 25 states.
These bills are different, with some tailored for employers and employees while others are directed to education institutions, especially higher education levels from requesting or demanding to have access to social networking accounts of students. Others cover both of these two divides with some bills finding it illegal for requests to a possible employee to add a person from the human resource to his or her friends list to monitor the account.
Employers’ Upper Hand
The arguments by most legislators are that great protections have to be developed, especially for prospective job seekers where the employer is believed to have an advantage. Demand for such information is likened to coercion while at the same time it might mean seeing a family starve or landing a job. For most individuals who need a job, they always give employers the key to their social media accounts.
Employers Also At Risk
In the absence of laws to protect employees from giving their passwords, it is legal for an employer to ask for them with privacy expectations also very unclear. Fundamentally, the legal framework is still a headache especially because the legislators are still trying to adapt to these new technologies since the law has not contemplated a situation where people’s lives are now online. It is also said employers might be facing lots of lawsuits if they consider other information found in the social media account of the individual to deny him or her the job, such as a sickness or pregnancy.
Also, apart from asking for access to social media accounts during an employment exercise, business groups would like to have legal frameworks in place to access social media accounts of their employees during internal investigations although most have been ignored.
The trend has been said to be widespread and news has spread fast on how administrators in schools and employers are demanding for access to Twitter Feeds and Facebook posts.
Rachel is an avid social media blogger who is addicted to facebook and twitter. Recently she wrote about how she lost her access to facebook and how she recovered it with the use of Social Password Finder.