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Are we on a Facebook privacy witch hunt?

A unanimously passed bill in the state senate sounds like a good solution to a problem that seems to be urban legend. (AP Photo/File)

On a unanimous, 49-to-nothing vote, the state Senate has passed a bill that would make it illegal for any employer or potential employer in the state to request a password or any related account information for the purpose of gaining access to any social networking site maintained by a current or prospective employee.

The bill also establishes a fine of up to $500 and court costs for violating the law.

This sounds like a good solution to a problem that seems to be urban legend.

If you have ever had an employer ask for your personal social media passwords, please send me a message through the Lynnwood Honda inbox at MyNorthwest.com.

A single Associated Press story last year mushroomed into a fear that companies all over America are asking for Facebook passwords as they consider job applicants. U.S. Senators were outraged too and proposed similar legislation to what’s going through Olympia.

I fact checked the original AP story, written by a Seattle journalist. He cited a single case of an unnamed private company that requested an applicant’s password.

The story says Justin Bassett, a New York City statistician, had a woman ask for his Facebook login information during an interview. Beyond that anecdote, all of the examples related to jobs in the field of law enforcement, where more invasive background checks are common.

I talked to the reporter directly who said, “My sense is that it happens, but it’s not widespread. It’s more prevalent among public agencies involved in security.”

A seed of a story grows into a bean stalk that really isn’t rooted in reality.

By LINDA THOMAS

Read more:
Everett school forces teen to reveal Facebook page

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