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Social media info may become off limits to employers

ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- Identical bills are now in the Florida house and senate.
They're being fine tuned in committees now.

A similar effort is also underway in Congress, and several states have already passed their own versions of the law.
As Channel Three's Jenise Fernandez reports, the bill in Florida is a response to what lawmakers believe is a growing trend of privacy invasion by employers.

Some of the things you post on social media are for your eyes and your friends' eyes only.
But concerns are being raised over employers asking potential employees for their social media account passwords.
Some lawmakers are trying to make sure, that doesn't happen.

It can be quite a process for any business to find top-notch employees.
At Oh Snap Cupcakes, those hoping to work here go through two interviews, reference checks, and a background check.

Lee Newkirk
"There have been times where we've had people work who have never been convicted of a crime and yet they have stolen from us... we've had people convicted and they're still working for us."

But when it comes to snooping on social media, owner, Lee Newkirk, tries to stay away.
Every once in awhile, she'll do a quick Google search on a potential employee, and look at any social media accounts they may  have, like Facebook or Twitter, as long as the information is public.

"I don't think we would ever, ever ask someone their password so we can do an investigation on them. we just don't believe that."

So far, 16 states have banned this practice.
But currently in Florida, businesses can ask for log-in information, and fire employees who refuse to provide them.

Sen. Jeff Clemens/(D) Palm Beach County
"There have been a lot of documented incidents, especially in other states, of abuse. Employers denying jobs to people who wouldn't allow them access to their own social media."

This bill would prevent employers from demanding that information, and would also prevent employers from retaliating against workers, or refusing to hire someone who doesn't give out their account information.

Sarica Austin
"That's like personal information... why does it matter about your Facebook info when you're applying for a job?"

Reporting in Escambia County, Jenise Fernandez, Channel Three News