Hagerstown resident Wayne Olewiler, 48, this week affirmed his support for a state law in Maryland prohibiting employers from asking current and prospective employees for their usernames and passwords for social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“That’s getting too much into people’s business,” he said. “I wouldn’t want anybody getting into my personal stuff just to get a job.”
Olewiler was among area residents who were asked Thursday about the law, which was approved by state legislators in April and signed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in early May, according to published reports.
The law, which was sponsored by state Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, will go into effect on Oct. 1.
Olewiler said the information on social media websites should not matter when it comes to getting a job.
“As long as you’ve got good references and stuff like that, you should be fine,” he said. “They shouldn’t get really personal with your information.”
Maryland became the first state in the nation to pass such legislation, according to reports.
Frederick resident Evan Patterson, 22, said he also supports the law.
“That’s someone’s private space, so unless they actually have a reason to be suspicious of something, they shouldn’t just have the right to go into people’s accounts,” Patterson said. “It has nothing to do with the actual workplace. When you’re at home, on the Internet and talking to people, that’s your business.”
But Hagerstown resident Steve Cook said he opposes the law because things posted on social media sites are already public information.
“If it’s in the public eye, it’s in the public eye,” he said. “It may teach people not to put all their stuff out there.”
Cook, 48, said he is the co-owner of Gourmet Goat, a restaurant on North Potomac Street in downtown Hagerstown.
He said that employers already check other personal employee information, and material posted on social media websites should at least be fair game.
“Employers should have the right to ask, and applicants can pass on the job if they don’t want to give it,” he said. “It shouldn’t be mandated either way. We have things like background checks for employees.”
Cecil Snyder of Hagerstown had a mixed reaction to the law. Although he said he supported it, he said people should not put certain things on such websites.
“Employees should be very careful with what they put on their Facebook (page),” he said. “If they think it's going to get them in trouble, don’t put it on.”
But he said personal information still should be protected.
“Privacy is privacy,” he said. “There are just so many demands on people these days, and I don’t think some of it’s necessary.”
Roger Layman, 34, of Hagerstown said he also supported the law because he believes that social media material is personal.
“This is not the employer’s business, and it shouldn’t matter,” he said. “They just want to get into other people’s business. Those are personal accounts.”