Current Issue Previous Issues Subscribe for FREE
The Conference Room: Socially Acceptable

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz
With a bill advancing that would fine a company that asks an employee or potential employee for a social media account password, we wondered: How far will this go, and will it stop employers from looking up accounts that are public? While both of the local professionals we questioned agreed that it’s out of line to ask for account information, they feel it’s completely acceptable to take a look at a public account as a way to see if they align with the company culture.

“There is a clear distinction between a potential employer demanding the passwords to anything created or owned by a potential employee and a potential employer performing ‘due diligence’ in researching the background of a potential employee.”

Ronald Lieberman, Esq.(pictured, left)
Shareholder/Partner, Adinolfi & Lieberman, P.A., Haddonfield
“The former entails a roundabout way of invading privacy. The latter entails a review of what the potential employee has put out in the open records for anyone to see. A password means the potential employee has created a privacy interest in the material and a demand for that password is nothing more than an excuse to invade privacy. … A potential employer can and should engage in ‘due diligence’ when making hiring decisions. Such searches can include a review through a search engine of the potential employee’s name and, if that leads to a review of a Facebook account open for the public to see, then there is no invasion of privacy. But, a line must not be crossed by employers in demanding passwords of any sort for anything regarding an employee.”

“As people use social interaction sites with greater frequency, they must be made aware that what they post online stays online forever.”

Anne Koons (pictured, right)
Prudential Fox & Roach, Cherry Hill
“I believe, if their choice for these sites is to set their privacy settings to only friends or friends and family, then there is a level of expectation of privacy, so to speak. Certainly, employees and employers alike have a right to a life outside the workplace. However, if one chooses to share information about themselves and their activities publicly, they cannot reasonably expect a potential employer will never see something they’ve shared. It is the responsibility of the person posting about themselves to use discernment as to whom and what will be seen, not the employer’s. If what is posted contradicts an employer’s business model, whether professionally, ethically or morally, then that information goes to the discretion of the employer. In short, if I can see it, so can everyone else.”

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 6 (June, 2012).
For more info on South Jersey Biz, click here.
To subscribe to South Jersey Biz, click here.
To advertise in South Jersey Biz, click here.