An increasingly common question I get is “does a prospective employer or your current employer have the right to look at your social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “ Well that depends on a couple issues. First if your accounts are not set to private a prospective employer or your current employer can check your social media without asking you. According to Career Builder.com as of 2015 52% of prospective employers check a job applicant’s social media accounts. Obviously, social media accounts promoting illegal activity, drug and alcohol abuse are big turnoffs to employers. There are many other things that may cause a prospective employer not to hire you. Some of the things are obvious and others are not obvious. Thus it is imperative you set your social media accounts to private when interviewing for a job. Additionally, many employers monitor their current employee’s social media accounts. If you have any content that your employer may find objectionable it is highly recommended that you set your accounts to private at all times.
Another situation that arises is when a prospective employer asks for your user name and password in order to view your content on social media that is set to private.
California employers may not request prospective or current employees to provide their user names or passwords in order to view social media accounts that are set to private. Additionally, they cannot aske to view prospective or current employee’s social media accounts in the employer’s presence. Similar laws exist in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington. Many other states are in the process of enacting their own laws, so be sure to google your state if it is not on the list.
It is important to keep in mind that there are no laws in place that prevent employers from checking out your social media profiles on employer owned electronic devices, especially if your employer has an electronic monitoring policy. You should read your employee handbook to understand the details. What this means is that it is possible for your employer to ask for your user name and password for you social media accounts that are accessed by company computers. So if you don’t want your employer to read your Facebook, don’t access it on the company computer.