Social Media Accounts and Privacy
It is evident that social media networks and websites are growing extremely popular among people of all ages, from young preteens to adults and grandparents. Membership in these networks, however, raises privacy and security concerns for users who display personal information, pictures, and conversations on the internet.
Another recent trend in this social media wave is the use of social networks by admissions officers, supervisors, and employers to determine applicants’ qualifications for acceptance. Individuals have voiced complaints and argued that their overseers and directors should not be able to request access to their personal accounts and social services. In fact, in April 2012, Maryland became the first state to pass a bill drafted to keep such information safe from employers. An excerpt of the bill reads, prohibiting an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through specified electronic communications devices; prohibiting an employer from taking, or threatening to take, specified disciplinary actions for an employee’s refusal to disclose specified password and related information; prohibiting an employee from downloading specified information or data; etc.
The bill therefore protects individuals’ privacy from employers who wish to track their employees’ and applicants’ behavior.
However, one can also look at this bill from a different perspective and question whether it is necessary to transfer concerns about privacy on social media websites into law. Individuals who choose to participate in such networks are aware that anyone can access the information that they themselves choose to display, and they are responsible for facing the consequences and incurring the risks associated with membership. The fact that users are aware that their supervisors may choose to view a social media account should encourage them even more to think twice about the personal information they are willing to present on an internet website.