Kansas bills would restrict employers' access to employee social networking accounts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Do you know who's creeping on your social media sites?

The results of a recent Huffington Post study may surprise you.

37 percent of employers admit they're using Facebook and Twitter to screen out potential candidates and keep check of the employees already on staff.

Representative Gail Finney of Wichita has proposed three separate bills: HB 2092, 2093 and 2094. The bills are aimed at protecting employees, college students and even potential employees from being fired or denied a job because of something they broadcast on personal social networking sites.

Say you had a bad day at work. A few years ago, you may have called a friend to vent. Now you have hundreds of friends at your fingertips. Some users take to Facebook or Twitter to blast off about a boss or coworkers, and all across the United States people are jeopardizing their careers.

The legislation would even apply to perspective employers screening applicants through social networking sites. 

"Employers want to make sure they are hiring someone with integrity. They want to look at their credibility and character, and I can understand that," Finney said. "However, I just don't think it's right."

The Huffington Post study also found 1 in 3 employers decide not to hire an applicant based on something they saw online.

Scott Anglemyer, executive director of the Kansas Workforce Development, says some people are misled by privacy settings. While increased privacy can help weed out some followers, he says there are ways around those settings.

"I think when you're at home because it seems anonymous, you're typing that stuff without an audience in front of you, sometimes your inhibitions go down a little bit, you post things you would never say to somebody in a conversation  and those are the kind of things that will get you in trouble", he said.

Employment experts say even if Finney's legislation passes, you should never post anything online that you wouldn't want everyone you know to see.

"If you're going out and searching for something and you happen to see something else that you weren't supposed to see how do you really truly keep that out of your mind when making a hiring decision? I think it would be tough for employers to do that", Anglemyer said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey passed legislation last year that prohibits requesting or demanding access to social media accounts of job applicants, college students or current employees. A total of 14 other states have introduced similar legislation.

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