Illinois Updates Social Media Legislation

We all want engaged employees and team members, but a new Illinois Legislative Law prohibits employees and bosses from requiring or asking their employees to engage on their employer’s business social media accounts. Those of us that understand how social media truly works (Pyramid Scheme) know the value of having people like, share, tweet, and retweet content.

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With the new legislation that passed and became effective January 1st, 2017, employers will have to rethink their social media marketing strategy.

Employers are prohibited from:

  • Asking, requiring or coercing employees or applicants to provide passwords or other related account information for accessing their personal online accounts.
  • Demanding access to employees’ and applicants’ personal online accounts.
  • Asking, requiring or coercing employees and applicants to authenticate or access their personal online accounts in an employer’s presence.
  • Requiring or coercing employees and applicants to invite employers to join groups affiliated with their personal online accounts.
  • Requiring or coercing employees and applicants to join employers’ online accounts or add employers or employment agencies to contact lists for their personal online accounts.
  • Retaliating against an employee or applicant for refusing any of the above activities.


You control the content you post through your PRIVACY settings. Use them. If you want to keep your professional life separate from your personal life, take the time and set it up. You only have yourself to blame if you call in sick and your boss sees you are out drinking and eating pizza at Quatro’s.

Hopefully you work in an environment that you enjoy and want to support. By voluntarily tweeting and posting images and content about your job, you help promote your place of employment and thus, hopefully, increasing its revenue.

Don’t be stupid (Yes, I Said Stupid) and post negative reviews or comments about your boss or employer. Many businesses now have social media policies that are in place that outline the Do’s and Don’ts that you sign in your employee handbook. Know what you are signing and own any of your posts, tweets, and snaps. Once it’s online, it’s online forever. There is no such thing as deleting content from the Internet.

Update your Social Media policies to reflect your handbook. There are two viewpoints when it comes to social media: Closed or Open. A closed one might be where employees/team members are not permitted to post content on social media due to fear or regulations. An example of this would be the healthcare market with fears of violating HIPPA. An open policy would be where you encourage employees to post about the business (of their own free will). Here at Harness Digital Marketing, we have an open policy and support each other on social media and our own individual brands.

Create a work environment that your team and employees want to voluntarily share and post content on behalf of your business. Treating employees more as a team and not cattle can go along way in them staying with you, promoting you, and getting more clients/sales. Social media can also let you know exactly what the work culture is like. This means that you have to be open to the possibility that your business might be toxic, and it needs to be addressed.

Keep up to date with HR and policies each year. For small business owners, this can be hard to do, but many times your local chamber of commerce sends out weekly legislative updates. Another option is to sign up to your local state legislative RSS feed. In Illinois, you can do so here: ILLINOIS RSS FEED LIST.

Tom Harness | Twitter: @iTomHarness | Snapchat: @tharness | LinkedIN: Tom Harness |


About Tom Harness

Tom Harness is the owner of Harness Digital Marketing, a digital marketing firm that works with businesses and organizations on Social Media, SEO, and Email Marketing. He is an entrepreneur and business owner with 20 years of combined experience in Education, IT, and Business. Tom is a U.S. Army Veteran and a Southern Illinois University alum. He also enjoys craft beers, his beloved Chicago Cubs, and his family.

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