We all know by now that a trend has emerged with employers perusing potential job candidates’ Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts before they even invite somebody in for an interview. The idea of privacy online is a bit of a punch line these days as more and more people suffer from an ill-advised status update or one too many photos depicting their “Animal House” days. But, should employers be snooping around employees’ or prospective employees’ accounts? On the other hand, if employees truly have nothing to hide, should it matter?
As the technological landscape continues to grow, especially for social media, mobile devices, and cloud computing, legal and societal changes will inevitably come at the hands of government and the legal profession. We are seeing this play out daily in the courtroom with Facebook being using for discovery and it is no surprise we continue to see it in the hiring process.
Additionally, bills are now being introduced at the state level that protect the privacy of employees when it comes to their online presence and account information. For instance, an article by Jennifer L. Parent at the McLane Law Firm explains that the state of New Hampshire considered “a bill that would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee or prospective employee to disclose his or her social media passwords” — and it passed in the House. It would not be a surprise to see other states follow suit.
Parent also explains in the article that we can expect more litigation in the social media area:
We can also expect employees who have accounts and connections of their own to seek to protect their ownership upon hire. It is in the interests of both companies and employees to address these issues at the commencement of the employment relationship. Social media remains a developing area of the law, and one area in which we can expect a lot more litigation.
I now pose the question again that I started this post with — should employers be snooping around employees’ or prospective employees’ accounts or does it simply not matter? Also, have you or anyone you know had a current or potential employer check out their social media accounts? Please comment below!
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