Allow me to jump in the time machine for a moment to discuss an outrageous story I missed in December 2014, which highlights the need for laws protecting employee privacy on social networks.
Last year, an Ohio school teacher was fired from his job after he posted comments on his personal Facebook page about a local dairy farm. The teacher, who is a vegan, wrote this comment on photos he posted of crates used to hold baby cows away from their mothers: "As someone who grew up feeling parental love and support, and now as a parent who gives love and support, I reject the claim that separating babies from loving mothers to raise them isolated in boxes can ever be considered humane."
Owners of the local farm, who called the post "frightening," contacted school administrators to alert them to the post. The teacher told the local press that he was subsequently ordered to speak with administrators, who ended his contract.
"During the meeting with my superintendent, I was informed we live in a large agricultural area, which is true, and that a lot of our money for the schools comes through residents of the community and that I needed to be very careful of what I put on [Facebook] because I might offend the community and the economic interests of the community," he told a local television station. "I was also told that I could have any personal beliefs I want to have, but if I want to be a strong Vegan advocate, I might want to look into doing something other than teaching."
The ACLU sent a letter to the local school board demanding the teacher be reinstated.
In some states, bosses or potential employers can force workers to hand over their personal social media passwords. That didn't happen in this case, but the story nonetheless highlights the need for robust social media privacy protections for workers. A bill currently before the Massachusetts legislature would forbid employers from demanding their workers' passwords. Tell your legislators to support it!