The social network and the job hunt collide

April 2, 2012

There has been a lot in the news lately about employers asking potential employees for Facebook or other social networking site passwords during the interview process.  A search of Westlaw’s ALLNEWS database shows over 250 results in the last 30 days for the following query:

facebook /s employ! /s potential applicant & da(last 30 days)

Facebook itself has jumped into the fray, warning potential employers not to ask a potential employee for his or her password, and several U.S. Senators are pushing for a Department of Justice investigation into the practice.  See 2012 WLNR 6534354.

Questions about this employment practice have been coming from a number of sources, and both sides of the political spectrum.  There has also been a spate of newly introduced legislation in response to this practice, with more states introducing legislation seemingly daily.  Minnesota is among the most recent, with a bill in the Minnesota Senate, 2011 MN S.F. 2565 (NS), and it’s companion bill in the Minnesota House, 2011 MN H.F. 2963 (NS).

Minnesota joins California (2011 CA A.B. 1844 (NS)), Maryland (2012 MD S.B. 433 (NS)), and Illinois (2011 IL H.B. 3782 (NS)) in considering legislation to prohibit this practice.  It seems likely more states will follow.

To stay up to speed on the status of these bills, or when new bills are filed in any state, you can set up a WestClip in the BILLTXT database using the following query:

employer /p username password (social +1 network! media) facebook e-mail

To watch for federal legislation on this topic, you can run the same query in CONG-BILLTXT.

It seems certain that the debate on this issue will continue and grow going forward, so it will be very interesting to watch the legislative developments and the number of states that consider bills to address this yet this session.