Starting on January 1st of 2013, employers in Illinois will no longer be able to legally require the social media passwords of job applicants, according to The Examiner.
I'm not sure how this is even legal in the first place, as it is an obvious intrusion on a person's freedom. But this is a great step forward for the relationship between social media and employment. There is already a lot of scrutiny that employers place on potential employees and what they do outside of the office, in their own personal lives.
Illinois is surprisingly only the second state in America to have such a law.
The relationship between an employer and an employee’s social media accounts is a very interesting one that is going to get a lot more attention in the coming years.
As young adults who have grown up with networks like Facebook and Twitter, many of them having accounts since they’ve been as young as 10 or 11 or even earlier, move into the job market, employers will have access to a large portion of their lives just by searching for them on networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Obviously, there are many pros and cons for job applicants who unknowingly have their profiles checked out by potential employers. Some people may have questionable photos on their Facebook, hurting their application chances. Or, conversely, someone may have a strong Twitter following that recognizes the applicant as a figurehead in their area of expertise.
Many people view these networks as their own private areas where they can let their true colors fly and be who they want to be. But as social media grows and businesses become more involved with these outlets, it is inevitable that profiles will become more and more pivotal in the hiring process.
This recent law in Illinois however, barring employers from being able to request the login passwords of job applicants is great. It shows that some people in government at least have some understanding of how this can really hurt people and cause problems in employment.
Even though this is a sign of hope, people who are in the job market should be very careful of how they use their social media accounts. You really never know who is watching.