WJTV News Channel 12 - Tennessee passes new social media law

Tennessee passes new social media law

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Tennessee -

In Tennessee when it comes to work, a person’s online privacy is now protected by a new law.

Governor Bill Haslam signed new legislation that makes taking action against employees for their online activities a little more complicated for employers.

The Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014 takes effect on January 1, 2014, but for some, this law is long overdue.

"There's seems to be too much emphasis on somebody's page or whatever they've posted on social media you know people making judgments about someone's character based on that," said ETSU student Ian Baptiste.

Baptiste told News Channel 11, he uses social media as a self promotion tool.

"I know that employers are probably going to be looking at it. And um, it'll kind of set me aside compared to other people because a lot of people are posting a lot of dumb stuff on there and it makes them look bad," said Baptiste.

The new law states that employees are not obligated to connect with employers on social media websites, do not have to provide user names or passwords, and cannot be punished for not providing log in information.

Tennessee is one of few states to pass a law that gives employees the right to privacy on their personal pages.

However, employee’s online activities are not fully protected under the law. If an employee posts illegal activities on a social media website, they can still face repercussion.

ETSU Dean of Students Jeff Howard said he thinks the law is a good thing.

"I think it offers employees and employers some protection and maintains a freedom of speech area for everybody," said Howard.

According to Howard, it's naive to think social media won't continue to change perceptions.

"Once it’s out there its probably out there forever. It’s not going away. And whether it's a position your applying for directly out of college or 5,10,15 years down the road you don't want to have things out there that could reflect negatively as a person and as a professional," said Howard.

Howard said he will continue to encourage students and employees to be careful what they post online.

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