Lesser-Known Social Media Legislation

By Quackenboss, Robert T. | Risk Management, October 2013 | Go to article overview

Lesser-Known Social Media Legislation


Quackenboss, Robert T., Risk Management


A wave of social media privacy legislation is rushing through state legislatures from Maine to California. To date, 10 states have enacted laws protecting social media passwords of employees and applicants, 30 similar bills are pending in state legislatures, and two have been introduced at the federal level. Lawyers, employers and the media have focused principally on two central aspects of most bills: prohibitions on employers requesting social media passwords from employees and applicants, and related non-retaliation provisions.

But the legislation contains several lesser-known privacy provisions representing additional pitfalls and nuances that should guide employers as they continue to navigate social media challenges.

Shoulder Surfing

While every piece of state legislation on social media prevents employers from asking employees or applicants for their social media usernames and passwords, 11 bills also contain provisions that prohibit employers from requiring employees or applicants to access their personal social media in the presence of the employer. This practice, known as "shoulder surfing," allows the employer to view the content that an employee or applicant has posted on Facebook or other social media without having to ask for a username or password.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Although "shoulder surfing" might seem less intrusive than asking for a social media password, employers should be wary, as four states--California, Illinois, Oregon and Washington--have already made this practice illegal. Further, California and Washington do not allow an employer to even request that an employee or applicant access social media in the employer's presence.

Mandatory Friending

A less intrusive means of monitoring employees' activities on social media is to require employees or applicants to add their employer or supervisor to their social media contact list. If an employer or supervisor is included on an employee's contact list, they can view content that the employee posts to the social media network. Requesting a password or "shoulder surfing" would then be unnecessary--the employer or supervisor could simply log on to the social network site with their own account and view everything an employee posted, including pictures, comments and complaints about work.

However, 10 state bills ban requiring employees or applicants to connect with either an employer or a supervisor on social media networks. This practice has already been outlawed in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

In Arkansas, the law prohibits even requesting or suggesting that an employee or applicant "friend" an employer or supervisor. In Colorado, Oregon and Washington, a request that an employee "friend" an employer is permitted, as long as the employee or applicant is not coerced or otherwise required to do so. Oregon's and Washington's laws are broader in whom they cover--in Oregon, employees and applicants also cannot be forced to friend employment agencies, and in Washington, they cannot be forced to add any person to their friend list. This creates special challenges with professional networking applications such as LinkedIn, where colleagues might naturally expect to connect with one another despite a hierarchical differential between manager and employee.

Social Media Privacy Settings

Six bills contain provisions that prohibit employers from requiring, requesting or even suggesting that an employee or applicant change the privacy settings on his or her social media network. For example, on Twitter, everything that a user posts is automatically viewable by the public. On Facebook, however, a user can select the privacy settings for much of the content they post, making it viewable by the public, by friends only, by friends of friends, or by only a specific group of friends. If the content is made public, then anyone with access to the Internet can view it, even people who do not have a Facebook account. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lesser-Known Social Media Legislation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.