ATLANTA -- A bill is in the legislature that would restrict employers from accessing the private social media of their employees.
The stories from 2016 are plentiful. In Fulton County, it was a teacher was fired for mocking a disabled student on Facebook. In Forsyth County, a school paraprofessional lost her job over a racially charged post on Facebook. There was the Bank of America teller fired for a racially charged post on Facebook.
"Sometimes people do not behave on their social media," observed state Rep. Doreen Carter (D-Lithonia), who is introducing what she calls the Social Media Privacy Protection Act. It’s a bill that would allow employees to keep their private social media away from the prying eyes of their employers.
Employers "should not be able to require me to allow them to see my Facebook page, or give them my password," Carter said Tuesday.
But the bill only offers a small measure of protection. If an especially incendiary social media post goes viral, typically anybody, including employers, can see the post on public sites. But the bill could keep an employer from demanding to see a post that has stayed private.
"I should have a right to say no without my job being in jeopardy," Carter said. The bill would not protect public social sites.
And though the social media bill might restrict Georgia businesses, that’s OK – says one business group leader we talked with.
"If it’s in the public domain and you do something against a company’s moral compass, then they’ve got a right to run their business. But getting into the private lives of employees could be detrimental," said Brian Anderson, CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.