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May 02, 2013
Arkansas Governor Beebe signs social media privacy law
By Jessica Webb-Ayer, JD, Legal Editor

Under a new Arkansas privacy law, employers are prohibited from requiring or requesting current or prospective employees to disclose usernames or passwords for social media accounts or to provide access to the content of their social media accounts.

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More specifically, employers may not require, request, suggest, or cause current or prospective employees to:

  • Disclose their usernames and passwords to their social media accounts;
  • Add an employee, supervisor, or administrator to the list or contacts associated with such accounts; or
  • Change the privacy settings associated with such accounts.
  • Take action against or threaten to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize a current employee for exercising his or her rights under the law; or
  • Fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee for exercising his or her rights under the law.

The law does make clear that there are certain actions it does not bar employers from taking. For example, employers are not prohibited from viewing information about current or prospective employees that is publicly available on the Internet.

What is considered a social media account? Under the law, social media accounts are defined as personal accounts with an electronic medium or service where users may create, share, or view user-generated content, including videos, photographs, blogs, podcasts, messages, e-mails, or website profiles or locations.

The law also specifically states that social media accounts include, without limitation, accounts established with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, or Instagram.

However, the law does make clear that social media accounts do not include accounts that are:

  • Opened by an employee at the request of an employer;
  • Provided to an employee by an employer (e.g., a company e-mail account or other software program owned or operated exclusively by an employer);
  • Setup by an employee on behalf of an employer; or
  • Setup by an employee to impersonate an employer through the use of the employer’s name, logos, or trademarks.

It is not clear when this new law takes effect.


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