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May 27, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

Forcing job applicants to disclose social media logins and passwords as a condition of employment is so 2013 — kinda like this crappy blog.

So, the State of Oregon is this close to becoming the first state to expand its social media workplace privacy law to forbid employers from requiring their employees or job applicants to have personal social media accounts as a condition of employment.

You can read a copy of the bill here.

So far, the bill has made it through both the Oregon House and Senate without a single “nay.” The new law would only impact social media accounts used exclusively for personal purposes unrelated to any business purpose of the employer or prospective employer and that is not provided by or paid for by the employer or prospective employer.

I understand the good intentions of the bill. Work is work, personal is personal, and worlds don’t have to collide.

But, consider two points:

1. Is this really commonplace?

I still have yet to see anything empirical — just anecdotal scare stories — about the number of employers who demand social media logins and passwords from applicants as a condition of employment.

So, while the 20-plus states who have passed laws forbidding this “practice” have good intentions, the legislation is more a solution in search of a problem. Is this new bill more of the same?

Apparently, its main sponsor heard from his wife about an applicant who was required to have a personal Facebook account as a condition of getting an interview of a job opening. That’s unfortunate, but it’s one incident.

How many employers do you know that require this? Exactly.

2. Job hunters stay off social media at their own risk

The reality is that many good jobs are sourced through professional social media channels like LinkedIn.

No one’s forcing you to have a LinkedIn account. But, if you’re not there, you may not know about the job opening.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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