Legislation says universities can’t monitor social media accounts

Schools cannot use social media monitoring software, according to new legislation.

Protecting the social media privacy of college students and university employees once again proved to be a bipartisan issue May 16, as the North Carolina House passed a bill that would prohibit colleges and universities from demanding passwords to Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with all other social networks.

North Carolina, with the passage of House Bill 846, joins a lengthy list of state legislatures that have effectively ended the brief higher-education practice of requesting social media log-in information for student and employee background checks.

The North Carolina legislation — which passed with a vote of 76-36 — makes exceptions for criminal investigations and employer-held devices. One state lawmaker, Rep. Paul Stam, spoke out after the vote, saying the new privacy law would prohibit schools from scouring social media accounts when they have good reason to do so.

The law, like similar state laws that have passed in legislatures across the country, would also make it illegal for universities to install tracking or monitoring software to keep tabs on students and campus employees.

Oregon legislators passed a bill through the state’s Senate April 21 barring community colleges and universities from asking prospective students for their social media log-in information as part of a school’s application process.

The Oregon bill passed unanimously, and now goes to the House.