The pros and cons of New Jersey’s Facebook bill

When many people come home from work at the end of a long day, they take a moment to sit in front of their computer at home, check their email and see what’s happening on their social media accounts. They may post some photos from a weekend excursion or comment on a friend’s post about how their workday went. Reconnecting with friends at the end of the day can ease workplace stress and helps employees maintain a balance of work and life.

However, Facebook and other social media platforms have become a battleground on the employment law landscape as employers and their workers struggle with issues of privacy. Some employers understandably want to have all the information they possibly can when making decisions about hiring. On the other side, it seems reasonable that employees and job applicants may not wish to broadcast the private details of their life to their boss.

The New Jersey legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit employers from requiring or even asking for an employee’s or applicant’s social media username or password. This would put some employee’s minds at ease, knowing that everything they say on Facebook will not come back to haunt their careers.

However, what happens when the use of social media is directly related to an applicant’s job responsibilities? In many marketing and public relations agencies, there are employees whose major responsibilities include creating and driving social media content. It makes sense that an employer would want to see how they use such technology before extending a job offer.

Source: NJbiz.com, “Plenty of reasons not to like Facebook legislation,” March 18, 2013

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