What you need to know about Maryland’s Facebook privacy protection legislation
Several weeks ago, the Maryland General assembly passed an important piece of legislation with regards to Facebook and other popular social networking websites. At its core, the bill states that employers are prohibited from asking current and potential future employees their social networking website user names and passwords.
Maryland became the first state to pass this specific type of bill, and is therefore leading the charge in terms of privacy protection. However, as of now the bill has still not been signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley. Another bill, which never made it out of committee in the past session, would have offered similar protections to students and student athletes.
This kind of policy is a positive step towards protecting the privacy of employees across the state of Maryland, and in the future, hopefully across the rest of the country as well. However, it’s not the end-all-be-all of privacy protection. The bottom line remains in the world of Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking and web 2.0 communities, that anybody who wants to legally find out more about you can simply perform a quick online search to see what they can dig up.
An employer may now not be able to ask for your name and password, but there is nothing preventing them from searching for their potential employees on Facebook to see if they come up, and what kind of information and photographs are present.
The best thing to do is to be cautious with your actions and the way you present yourself on these services. Anything that can be used against you in any way, or is otherwise questionable or could potentially be misconstrued, should be avoided entirely.
Additionally, be wary of the privacy barriers which you try to create on Facebook and other sites. Even if you’re using settings which are designed for maximum privacy, there are always loopholes for other individuals to find you. And anything that has ever been released online could have been saved, downloaded or shared by somebody else, waiting to come back and haunt you down the line.
Take care to protect your personal image and identity online, and to guard yourself against invasions of privacy. This legislation from the state of Maryland to prevent employers from getting your Facebook passwords certainly represents a strong push in the right direction, but it does not prevent anybody from researching you on their own.