Social Media Logins: Are yours protected from your employer?

Image of cellphone with social media icons showing, being held in front of a keyboard.Everyone’s on social media, right? As its use continues to expand, questions also rise about what employers can and cannot require of you as it relates to your social media accounts. Specifically, do you know whether your employer can require you to give them your social media logins?

Can employers see what you post on social media accounts?

Nothing stops your employer or potential employer from checking your social media accounts to see what you previously posted or are currently posting if you are “connected,” have not turned on your privacy settings, or someone you are “connected” with shares the post. This is an important reason never to post anything that could be inappropriate, offensive, or otherwise affect your career. After all, anything and everything you post lives on forever, even deleted posts if they have been shared.

Employers are increasingly concerned about what their employees post. Currently, there are no federal laws prohibiting employers from monitoring employees on social networking sites. (That is, of course, separate from the question of what they can and can’t do with the information they may find.)  Many employment laws are designed to strike a balance between employers’ business interests and employees’ right to privacy. Therefore, under current laws, they can monitor public accounts, but that is not the same as asking—or demanding—your usernames and passwords.

Must you share your social media logins?

You have privacy rights that need protecting. Many state legislatures agree, which is why states are enacting laws prohibiting employers from gaining access to your private social media accounts. These laws protect you from sharing your logins, being required to add anyone as a friend, or providing access to your social media pages. Be aware that based on the state where you work, there may be times when employers can access your accounts, for example, when investigating wrongdoing.

Please keep in mind that most of these social media laws apply to your personal accounts and typically do not apply to online accounts provided by the employer or used for your employer’s business purposes. Also, it’s important to remember your office computer and network are not yours; they belong to your employer and, therefore, are usually subject to their access and monitoring.

Finally, as with nearly every area of employment, different rules may apply to federal workers. If you are a federal employee and have questions regarding your employer’s access to and/or use of information on your social media accounts, give us a call.

Have questions about your privacy rights?

If you have questions about your privacy rights as they apply to your social media accounts, or if you’ve been disciplined or fired because of something you posted, please contact the employment lawyers of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch. We advocate for you.