In the wake of the horrific shooting that left two overnight workers dead at a Pathmark in Old Bridge last August 31st, there’s a petition being circulated that would require employers to conduct background checks of prospective employees by looking into their social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The reason behind all this is because the shooter, former marine Terence Tyler, posted on his Twitter account disturbing messages as to how he wanted to kill people…all leading up to the August 31st shooting of fellow employees Bryan Breen and Cristina LoBrutto.

A job applicant’s social media history would form part of a requisite background check if signatories of an online petition begun in Old Bridge are successful.

The effort, though, would appear to run counter to proposed state and federal legislation that would ban employers from requiring prospective or current employees from disclosing user names, passwords or other means of accessing online accounts, or even asking if the potential hire has such an account.

The petition, on Change.org, nevertheless wants the state Legislature to pass the legislation, called “Cristina’s Law” by its authors, obliging potential employers to “include social media history in background checks.”

According to text accompanying the petition, employers would be required to “consult social networking sites” as part of the hiring process.

“If responsible employers decline employment to those who have express evil intent; and if responsible employers take the additional step of bringing such intent to the attention of authorities and those in a position to possibly intervene and offer assistance, lives will be saved,” it reads.

Terence Tyler, who had worked at the Pathmark for less than two weeks, entered the store following a middle-of-the-night break and fired 16 shots from an assault rifle, striking and killing Cristina LoBrutto, 18, and Bryan Breen, 24, according to accounts from law enforcement. He then killed himself.

The petition has garnered more than 1,900 signatories as of this morning, including those identified as LoBrutto’s mother, Breen’s parents, friends of both, township Mayor Owen Henry and the president of the school board, Eugene Donofrio.

Donofrio said that people who fear that the proposed law has onerous overtones are naïve about the reach of cyberspace. With nearly every post instantaneously public, privacy is mostly an illusion, he said.

“If I have 1,500 followers and post about myself, obviously I’m going to get attention,” he said. “You’re not invading somebody’s privacy.”

So the question is: does privacy trump safety…or are we entering a slippery slope where something supposedly not in the public domain, like your Facebook or Twitter profile, can be used to ascertain your fitness for a particular job...or somehow be used against you?

I’m rather surprised that since the petition drive already has a name attached to it (“Cristina’s Law”), you’d have thought a legislator would have glommed onto it by now.

But again, the question begs being asked, would you be willing to support such a law where an employer would be REQUIRED to obtain your online profile?

Did someone say “slippery slope?” I thought so.