Judith Delaney, J.D., CBC
The states of California, Michigan, Maryland, and Illinois as of this date January 8, 2013 have passed laws that make it illegal for companies to request social networking passwords or nonpublic online account information from behind the “social media wall” (as Nora Campos author of the California law calls it) from their employees or job applicants. If you are a student living in California, Delaware, Michigan or New Jersey they now have the same or similar laws that apply to academic institutions. So, congratulations if you live in one of those states. However:
While employers can’t demand that you as their employee give up your personal passwords, as an employee or prospective employee you should still exercise caution when you are deciding whether to post that “iffy” photo or video; or make a not-so-nice comment online, because employers can still view and use your public information posted on your Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to determine if you have done anything that could damage the reputation of the employer by retaining you as an employee or hiring you as one.