The new law says an employer cannot force you to tell them your social media passwords or login to let them see what you’re doing. That seems obvious to most people. But what an employer also cannot do anymore is tell an employee or applicant, I need you to ‘friend’ me on Facebook, or I need you to friend me on Instagram, or follow me on Twitter. That way I can see what you’re doing,” said Chris McCarty, a Knoxville attorney who specializes in employment law.
Tennessee now joins a list of dozens of states that have passed an Employee Online Privacy Act. McCarty says it protects people who make their online settings private, not the information someone shares with the entire world wide web.
“The default setting for most social media accounts is ‘public’ so anyone can see it. Anything that is public is still fair game for an employer to see what its workers or an applicant is doing. I tell people to be smart, because everything you do online that is public, it’s just like going in the street and doing it,” said McCarty.
The new law says employers cannot force an employee or job applicant to provide access to private information.
“You have to take an active role as the user and make everything friend-only and set your privacy settings. If you don’t do that, this law doesn’t protect you at all,” said McCarty.