California Cracks Down on Colleges' Social Media Monitoring

August 23, 2012

Colleges in the Golden State would be prohibited from requesting access to students’ social media accounts under legislation passed Tuesday by the California Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill, SB 1349, into law. Similar legislation passed in Delaware last month, and another bill passed the Maryland Senate but ultimately stalled. Colleges including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Louisville have come under criticism recently for monitoring athletes’ social media activities (with the students’ knowledge) by demanding access to their accounts, requiring them to “friend” athletics department employees on Facebook, and using software to monitor who publishes words such as “drunk driving” and “drugs.” Some of the bills, including the one in California, have been counterparts to legislation prohibiting employers from regulating employees’ social media use.

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