Have you ever been advised to “clean up” your Facebook profile or censor your tweets because your boss may be monitoring your social media activity?  As much of a inconvenience as it can be, no one really wants their boss to know what they do on the weekends.  However, Congress and more than a dozen states have been considering new laws that may protect your privacy when it comes to what you do online.  This new legislation would restrict, or possibly forbid, employers from requesting social media passwords from their current employees or applicants regardless of weather or not these social media accounts were accessed during work hours or on company-owned devices.

There are valid arguments on both sides of this debate.  For example, there is the case of the shooting in a New Jersey supermarket that killed two of its employees.  The shooter, also an employee of the supermarket, had tweeted remarks that stated his intention.   One could argue that, if these tweets were seen by management, the tragedy could have been thwarted.

On the other hand, if employers are allowed to access these profiles, they can discover protected information such as race, ethnicity, marital status and medical history.  This would be a major invasion of employees’ and applicants’ privacy.

California has attempted to find a middle ground in their recently adopted laws that ban employers from requiring employees and applicants to provide access to their social media profiles.  This legislation allows investigation into social media in the event of employee misconduct or violations of laws and regulations.

Regardless of which side of the argument you’re on, the truth is that social media websites are very new and very widely used.  Since websites like Twitter and Facebook haven’t been part of our lives for very long, it is understandable that we, as a society, are still deciding on what is and what is not appropriate to use these websites for.