Illinois businesses may soon be banned from asking prospective applicants for their passwords to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The bill introduced to the state legislature will make it illegal for an employer to gain access to an interested employee’s account during the hiring process. In Minnesota, there is no such bill in the works.
“It is legal in Minnesota at this point. I’m glad they are working on this bill (in Illinois) because I think it is an important thing to protect,” said Laura Lankton, Career Development Center career specialist.
Sophomore Catherine Huss and other St. Thomas students knew little about the recent legal proposal but agree employers have no right to ask for account information.
“It’s shocking to know such a thing is even possible. It’s very irrelevant to the employer’s position and is a breech of privacy,” Huss said.
More employers are also hiring firms such as Social Intelligence to do social media background checks on job candidates. The year-old company gathers information about everything employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.
“I think being able to view a person’s social media site without approval is an invasion of privacy,” senior Nikki Franta said. “Just because there is a picture of someone drinking, it doesn’t mean that they will be irresponsible at work.”
Lankton said that students who are currently applying for jobs and internships and are concerned about how their social media sites present them, should make sure to check their privacy settings and also must have a professional picture.
“Another thing we suggest is that students get a Linkedin account,” Lankton said. “It is the No. 1 site recruiters use to search candidates, so an employer can make an informed choice on hiring you.”
Sara Kovach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.