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Can my employer access my social media accounts?

Recently, recognizing that employees use social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, employers have begun asking employees for their passwords to access those accounts.   The employers argue that they need to monitor those accounts to ensure that their trade secrets and proprietary information is not being shared outside the company. Employees view this as an egregious violation of their rights. Recently some state legislators, including Pennsylvania, have introduced bills to try and limit an employer’s ability to seek access to these social media sites. However, the proposed legislation in Pennsylvania has been tabled for now.As it currently stands, an employer is permitted to ask for access to these accounts and your refusal to grant access may be viewed negatively and impact your job. But be aware-even if you don’t directly grant your employer access to the account, it is possible that they will become aware of content that affects them through other ways. For instance, if you “friend” co-workers or former co-workers, content on your social media site may be shared with your employer through their network. Further, if you access your social media sites through a work computer, any data downloaded or accessed on that computer may be saved by the employer’s server.Your best practice is not to use any social media sites while at work or to make any reference to your employer or co-workers on those social media sites. Keep work separate from your personal life.

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