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Christie is right; 'Facebook bill' should be revised

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Like many companies, we here at NJBIZ consider social media strength to be a top asset when looking at job candidates. In fact, we recently created a position to essentially take us to the next level in the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, et. al.

As part of the job listing, we asked that candidates provide their Twitter handles, so we could see how many followers they had, find out how they attracted new followers and judge how well they tweeted relevant content.

Under a bill conditionally vetoed by the governor last week, asking for such information could have landed us in a bit of hot water.

The so-called "Facebook bill" was the kind of legislation that you could tell came from the heart — and from a series of news reports that may have exaggerated the pervasiveness of a problem. The measure would stop employers from demanding the Facebook passwords of job applicants as a way of getting the kind of background information any hiring manager would kill for.

Problem is, the bill sought to make social media off limits in discussions with job candidates, and even the most old-school of employers has to realize that without a presence in places like Facebook, their companies are in deep trouble. Essentially, a candidate asked about having a social media account could have grounds to sue under the bill as it was presented to Chris Christie.

Privacy is extremely hard to come by these days — just look at the stories about what Google's new Glass project has in store for the future — so we applaud the Legislature for working to secure some measure of it for job candidates. But at the same time, companies are playing in the social media space, too, and they have a right to ask about a candidate's qualifications and experience in this arena. Christie has laid out a sensible compromise to move forward on digital privacy in job interviews, and we hope the Legislature takes the concerns seriously and quickly moves ahead on a revised version.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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