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Work and social media Part I: Turning over passwords

Almost everyone, it seems, uses some sort of social media. And as these platforms have taken on more significant roles in our lives, employers have expressed concern over protecting trade secrets and other confidential information.

To combat these concerns, employers began forcing employees and job applicants to turn over the passwords to their social media accounts. In many cases, the employee’s job depended on complying. This issue entered the arena of employee privacy, and many states have passed laws to strengthen the rights of employees.

Here is what you need to know about social media privacy in Texas:

Many states protect your social media accounts, but not Texas

An increasing number of state-level governing bodies view a request for social media passwords as an invasion of employee privacy. We don’t allow our employers to read our diaries, why should they access our personal Facebook accounts?

Since around 2012, twenty-six states as well as Washington D.C. have passed legislation preventing employers from forcing employees to give up passwords in order to keep their job.

In 2015, the Texas legislature considered a similar bill. H.B. 1777 would have prohibited employers from accessing their employee’s social media accounts as well as those of job applicants. But, it never passed.

So far, no federal law has addressed this issue.

What you can do to protect yourself

Since Texas employers can still access social media accounts, in many cases it is better to simply be careful what you post online. But, many propose that such practices stifle free speech.

In Part II of this series, we will discuss what happens when posts on social media lead to retaliation at work.

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