Ten states already prohibit employers from requiring employees and job applicants to hand over their personal website passwords, and now the House of Representatives is considering similar national legislation.
Sponsors of the just-introduced Password Protection Act of 2013 said they wrote the bill after hearing complaints that some employers require employees and applicants to reveal their Facebook and Twitter log-in information—and then review what they have posted.
That’s already illegal in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.
It’s a real issue: A report by On Device Research states that one in 10 applicants under age 34 have been rejected for a new job because of something they posted on Facebook, Twitter or other social sites.
Note: Employment law attorneys generally recommend against doing online research on applicants, because it could reveal information about protected characteristics, such as whether someone is pregnant. For more on the perils of using social media to gather background information on job candidates, see "Watch out for pitfalls, risks of using social media in hiring."