My research on social media collection and preservation is getting more and more interesting. One of the bigger issues is user privacy. If I post information on FaceBook and use the proper security protocols to be specific about who I share that info with, should anyone else have a right to access it? The Stored Communications Act of 1986 would seemingly protect a user’s FaceBook content from being released to third parties – and it does, to an extent. The SCA prevents publishers from releasing an individual’s information to third-parties, even in response to a civil subpoena. But, it does not protect as much in the event of a criminal investigation and there are ways around the SCA for both criminal and some civil cases.
Now comes news about employers asking potential hires for their FaceBook passwords as part of the interview process. The ACLU has come out strongly against this practice and there is now legislation to ban employers from this type of request. I can’t help but wonder what kind of ripple effect this might have on eDiscovery and compliance initiatives within companies. Some of the social media monitoring and collection tools require users to authorize access to their accounts, either by directly handing over credentials or by enabling applications that live on the publisher’s site. If a law were to pass protecting users from handing over information to prospective employers, one might argue it could apply to handing the information over to current employers.
It will be important for companies to monitor how the laws and cases evolve with regard to social media. Social media usage policies will be key – companies will need to inform employees that the use of social media on any company property (devise, network, etc.) is subject to monitoring and then determine the right way to do so while not violating employee privacy. eDJ continues to investigate social media governance and the challenges it presents and best practices that exist. If you have any stories to share, please email me.