Legislation regarding social media is on the rise. Commentators spend a lot of time monitoring the implications of social media in the employment and lawsuit context but the judicial branch is now weighing in as well. A number of legislatures have already enacted laws that address what happens to social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter upon a person’s death. Some states are also considering restricting potential employers from requesting a person’s social network password during the hiring process.
Where else could we see legislation? Like cases, the scenarios are endless: (1) laws that address employers monitoring employee activities; (2) use of social media by companies that conduct background screens both in and out of the hiring process; (3) use of social media screening in university or school applications; (4) the use of social media in lawsuits both criminal and civil; and (5) even use of social media in credit checks and loan applications. Of course, the use of social media information by companies like Facebook and Google are discussed routinely as they change their privacy policies. Certainly, legislatures will weigh on privacy issues as well.
The point is, as we contribute more and more to our online history through social media, a relatively new phenomena, there will be more ramifications for what that information can be used for by employers, advertisers, government agencies, etc. The legislative branch will continue to address the use of social media through legislation instead of letting the common law evolve because so many people are now online and it is a sensitive topic. We will continue to monitor this.