- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers are considering a change to a social media law after Facebook raised concerns that it would bar supervisors and employees from having purely voluntary, social contact.

The law passed in 2013 says an employer should not “require, request, suggest or cause” an employee or possible employee to add a supervisor or administrator to the list of contacts associated with social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter - for example a friend request on Facebook. But the Arkansas Department of Labor asked lawmakers Wednesday to clarify the law so voluntary friend requests between a boss and employee aren’t outlawed.

Labor Department general counsel Denise Oxley told lawmakers that Facebook asked for clarification after the law was passed, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1rkwyoz ).

“Facebook was primarily concerned that the law might be construed to prevent purely voluntary, purely social contacts between a supervisor and an employee,” she said.

“If you’re familiar with Facebook, (the company was concerned) a friend request would be construed as a violation of the law. We had a brief discussion with the sponsor of the legislation and initiated rule-making to define some terms and make it clear that purely voluntary contact between a small employer and his staff or a supervisor … would not be a violation of the law.”

Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, asked whether the new rules included procedures or recourse for situations that might be awkward with an acquaintance but could invoke fear with a boss.

“What kind of policy do you have if somebody asks someone to be a friend on Facebook, and they don’t want to be their friend? What kind of protective measure do you have for those who feel like they are being forced to join or accept?” he asked.

The House and Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committees took no action Wednesday on the proposed rule changes, which would also replace the criminal penalty for employers who violated the provision with a civil penalty.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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