As social media becomes abundant in modern day, it also becomes a mechanism for employers to view the activities of their employees on a more personal level. It has become rather apparent that employers have done their fair share search of social media profiles, and their access to those profiles have been dependent on whether those profiles were on public viewing settings. However, some employers have gone as far as going the extra mile and expressly asking their employees for the username and password of that employee’s social media account. It seems rather absurd that any employer would dive into their employee’s privacy rights in such a way, nevertheless, forcing employees to share their social media information is completely legal (in about half of the United States).
State Legislation Prohibiting an Employer’s Access
As far as legislation allowing this kind of behavior, nearly 50% of the states have drawn a firm line deterring this employer conduct, but on the other hand, the other 50% have kept silent as to this issue. Among different legislators that have enacted laws prohibiting employers from accessing employees’ or prospective employees’ social media accounts, each state has created their own unique law that limits an employer’s ability to personally divulge into an employee’s private account, including their emails, social networking and other personal accounts. States such as California, Illinois and Colorado have joined the movement to ban employer’s from requiring access. It is also important to add that employers, varying by state statute, are unable to take any type of retroactive action against a potential or actual employee after they have denied their employer from access into their personal accounts.
Potential Federal Regulations
Florida, however, has tried to enact legislation for years now, but has nevertheless been struck down. As of 2019, there is new legislation pending in the state of Florida that restricts educational institutions, employers and even landlords from access into social media accounts. This bill is still pending in both houses. Not only has the issue come about on a multi-state level, the topic has been discussed on the federal level as well. Even though this prohibition has the potential of becoming enacted by Federal statute, it is still far out and considerably in the late future.