Facebook Demand Laws: Closing In On Double Digits

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What is in a number? In particular, the number 9? Does it mean anything to you, or symbolize anything in particular?

Even the most basic research reveals:

  • In Chinese culture, the number 9 is associated with the Chinese dragon as a symbol of power and magic, although the Japanese apparently consider the number 9 to be unlucky.
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy contains 9 circles of Hell.
  • The number 9 is the highest single-digit number in the decimal system.
  • 9 months is the normal period of human pregnancy.
  • There are 9 innings in baseball, and 9 players on the field.
  • Roger Maris wore the number 9 for the New York Yankees, as did Reggie Jackson for the Oakland A’s, Ted Williams for the Boston Red Sox, Gordie Howe for the Detroit Red Wings, and Clark Gillies for the New York Islanders.
  • Cats are said to have 9 lives.
  • There are 9 justices sitting on the United States Supreme Court.

Oh, and the State of Washington just became the 9th state to enact a “Facebook demand” law.

Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development?

The first two or three states were kind of fun to write about, as the issue was still somewhat novel. States four through eight represented an opportunity for me to wax poetic on such issues as “Is the employer-demanding-Facebook-password-information problem really a problem?” and “Why are legislatures seemingly able to work quickly and cohesively to pass legislation on this?”

But now that we’re at the ninth state, I confess that I am bored with this topic. Yet, I feel strangely compelled to continue to update this list for those who are keeping track at home through this blog: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, and now Washington. Some of the laws are the same (employers cannot require applicants or employees to turn over account information, and cannot retaliate against those that do not), and some of the laws contain somewhat unique language, such as Washington, whose new law also states that employers may not “compel or coerce an employee or applicant to add a person, including the employer, to the list of contacts associated with the employee’s or applicant’s personal social networking account[.]” In other words, you can’t force them to be your friend.

For those in these 9 jurisdictions, re-consider if you were considering making such a request or demand. For those outside those 9 jurisdictions, do you really want to be seen as an employer making such a request or demand in any case?