Why You Need a Social Media Policy

February 8th, 2012

Internet use by employees is a hot topic for most employers.  In addition to the issue of access during work hours, companies face the use of their name in employee blog posts, tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn.  They need to be able to control the content and timing of messages so that proprietary information is not revealed and their image is not damaged.  At the same time, they do not want to interfere with an employee’s first amendment rights.  Even well-meant postings can be damaging.

The purpose of a social media policy is to put the employee on notice as to the employer’s expectations with regard to Internet use.  The employee should know that the policy will be modified as technology develops and changes.  Clear cut guidelines help to prevent misunderstandings and serve to protect the employer. They provide a basis for termination if it is ultimately necessary.

Companies vary widely in their policies regarding employee involvement in the Internet, but one thing is certain:  it is better to put your employees on notice regarding your social media policy rather than facing an unforeseen problem and dealing with it after it occurs.

Employees must first understand that they do not have any right to privacy on their computers at work.  Whatever they write can and may be reviewed by the company.  They are never allowed to reveal confidential or proprietary information.  In addition, they should know the company standards with regard to use of its name.  Some may require prior approval before an employee posts any information regarding the company.  In others, the employer may simply require that the employee state that any posting represents his own views and not that of the employer.  Employees should only write about areas within their control or areas of expertise and should make clear what their position is at their company.  They should keep abreast of company guidelines for using blogs, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Workers may never use the internet to make discriminatory or offensive statements about someone.  They should not post political opinions or religious beliefs in the name of their employer.  Pretending to post in the name of another employee should serve as an immediate ground for termination.  Online behavior must reflect the company’s standards and values.

–Andrea Goldman








posted by: joelrosen in BUSINESS, EMPLOYMENT & DISCRIMATION | No Comments

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