4 Tips for Checking Facebook at Work

Whether you’re online all day or hop onto Facebook on your work computer just to quickly peruse your newsfeed, lawmakers are cracking down, as per a piece on U.S. News & World Report,

Social media privacy laws have been introduced or they’re pending in 35 states, says the National Conference of State Legistlators. That’s not all — since this past January, five states (Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Washington), implemented legislation that makes it prohibitive for employers to access employees’ social media passwords.

That said, there are some loopholes. For instance, per the piece there’s a new law in Utah that allows employers to request employees’ passwords for Facebook or Twitter when the tech device has been supplied by or paid for by the company. Whether it was paid by the employer in whole or in part, the law still applies.

In addition, a Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics survey indicated two years ago that 42 percent of companies actually cracked down and punished employees for behavior on social media sites. This is significant since two years prior in 2009 the percentage was 24.

Instead of being paranoid about your Facebook posts and tweets, there are several ways to protect yourself.

1. Inquire about your employer’s policy. Your employer may have one that outlines guidelines — whether they’re specific or vague, they may not ban usage but instead provide guidance such as pointing out, “Tweets are not related to my employer and are my own.” Figure out what you can and can not do online. For instance, your employer may have a policy banning providing recommendations on LinkedIn since they may also prohibit providing references and recommendations offline. Again, learn your company’s policies and adhere to them. Something as innocent as recommending a colleague may be off limits.

2. Learn the state law. The piece points out, “If you work in a state that does have a social media privacy law, or is on the cusp of passing one, read up on it.”

3. Make your profile private. Boundaries are meant to be created and this is certainly one instance where you may not want your boss having access to your life outside of work.

4. Be mindful. Watch what you post and when. For starters, even though it’s your account and not your company’s, technically we’re never “off.” Your always putting yourself, your brand out there and technically represent your company; avoid offensive postings.

And while we’re at it, we should discuss the devices themselves. If your company pays for your iPhone and provided your laptop, it’s theirs. If you don’t want your employer to gain access to your information, the solution is simple: Don’t access sites off their devices.