The Great Employer/Employee Social Media Passwords Debate

Should employers be able to access employee social media

Learn more about Facebook Recruiting practices by checking out our webinar on-demand by clicking here.  They’re available anytime, all the time, 24/7. 

Last April, SNOPA or H.R. 5050, was introduced to the House of Representatives and would make it illegal for employers to request passwords and other private information from employees and job seekers on social networks. Unfortunetly days later, the bill died and was referred back to the committee. Since then states have been enacting laws to protect their state’s workforce. Employers need to recognize that asking for personal information such as passwords to social networking is flat out wrong.

Can An Employer Access an Employee’s Private Facebook?

States all over the United States are protecting their workforce by enacting laws and introducing bills that fix this awful practice. The debate over this cyber-screening process continues outside the federal government. Employers are asking candidates for this information to try and gain a better understanding of potential employees. This practice is seen as going to far in order to get the dirt on a new employee. Restricting access has become difficult with Facebook privacy settings, but even so, employers are wanting more and more information to make the right hire.

But people don’t like the idea that employers are demanding passwords. The lawfulness of this practice is questionable.

Internet Privacy Goes to the Courts

In May, Maryland became the first state to enact a law which prohibits employers from requesting or requiring that applicants or employees disclose their user name or password to personal social media sites – such as Facebook or Twitter.

In August of 2012, Illinois joined the state of Maryland in legislation protecting employee’s social media passwords.

Luckily, states are recognizing that steps are needed to protect job seekers from this kind of personal invasion. In December, Michigan passed a bill prohibiting employers and schools from requiring employees and students to share login information to their personal social media accounts.

House Bill 5523, signed by Governor Rick Synder, “prohibit[s] employers and educational institutions from requiring certain individuals to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of personal internet accounts.”

Other states are catching on too. In September, California also passed a law prohibiting companies from asking workers for social media passwords. Delaware prohibited public and private schools from asking for students’ social media account passwords too.

You should know by now that as a job seeker, you should have your networks set on private. In addition, no matter how private your social site is, don’t post anything that could shed a negative light on you. Until the federal government passes some form of legislation making this practice illegal, states are rising up to the challenge.

It’s Never as Private as You Think

But for job seekers to provide personal access to a potential employer during a job interview is both insulting and a brutal invasion of privacy. Kudos to the states that are passing bills to protect employees from this kind of bullying.

Let Us Know How You Feel!

Should employers be able to access social media passwords for future employees? 


Learn more about Facebook Recruiting practices by checking out our webinar on-demand by clicking here.  They’re available anytime, all the time, 24/7. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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