Social media seems to be popping up everywhere. People who once could successfully avoid social media are now being enticed to begin using it on a more consistent basis. As people began to use social media companies, began to use social media as well. In the progression of these things, smart policies need to be implemented for both companies and their employees. This week we will seek to discuss both the liability of employees on social media but also the legal issues companies can get themselves into with social media as well.
Social media was made for individuals to connect with others; everyone knows that by now. Many social platforms originally did not plan for businesses to be online as their patrons. Now they are everywhere. This can be a great help to a company, or it can also become a liability. When joining a company with social media guidelines it is key for individuals to be aware of their rights. It is also important for a person to be smart. Most companies are not going to ask an employee to do something which would infringe on their rights. Businesses simply want assurance that they are hiring someone who will not be a liability to the professional image of their organization. Over the past few years there has been more than one case where employees have found themselves in hot water over social media posts. When companies inform their employees of their social media policies in the beginning there should be no issue. That way, if an misplaced tweet or other social media post gets an employee in hot water, the company can limit its liability in any ensuing fallout.
Businesses are concerned about their image. Who wouldn't be? However, there are many instances where companies have gone overboard in their social media policies. There are some rules which should be a given. Maintaining an upright profile with no questionable activity is a great place to start. Asking employees to not post anything negative about their employer might be legally difficult to enforce, but it could at least be entertained by employees as something tasteful to consider. Both of these things happen on a daily basis. But some companies have gone so far as to ask for the usernames and passwords of their employees' social media accounts —this is where things go over the line.
THE MIDDLE GROUND
In the end, companies need to protect their image, and every employee is an individual. These things will always hold true. Companies realize that inviduals can at times make mistakes or say things without thinking. They are simply making plans for when employees show their individualism. Employees need to realize the clout they carry. Companies do. Some companies are even hiring people based off of their social media personalities. This is an idea which has taken a new role in hiring recently. It brings up even more questions about how companies and employees interact on social media. Is it right for an employee to be hired simply because of their social media presence? Hashing it all together; businesses need to make sure their social media policies are legally enforceable and non-restrictive. Employees need to realize they can be of value to their company and not to be a hindrance.