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Sensible Social Media Policy Guidelines

Posted on : 15-09-2011 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Social Media Policies



Social media has revolutionized the way employers investigate prospective employees and manage current employees. However, employers who reap the benefits of social media also expose themselves to a variety of legal consequences. According to hr.blr.com’s article, Create an Effective Social Media Policy ASAP, “One of the greatest dangers of misusing such media is a data breach—of personal health or other sensitive information, or of the employer’s proprietary information.” Employers must protect themselves from liability by creating and enforcing a comprehensive social media policy. Below are some practical guidelines published in hr.blr.com’s article and provided by credit rater Experian and the law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.

  • On the team that creates the policy, include a couple of the employees who are enthusiastic users of social media. They may know more about the advantages, and the pitfalls, than your legal and HR people do.
  • Don’t try to prohibit employees from complaining about conditions at work or their compensation or benefits. Postings like that may make top management unhappy, but such employee activities are protected conduct, regardless of the medium used.
  • Emphasize your organizational procedures for making such complaints internally, and urge that they be used.
  • Stress that postings that reflect a lack of professionalism or ethics—or worse, that imply criminal misconduct—can do irreparable damage to the organization’s reputation.
  • Clearly communicate in the policy what the organization’s trade secrets—customer lists, patented processes, and the like—are. If you don’t identify them as such, employees may not know they’re proprietary information.
  • Update your e-discovery policies and procedures to ensure they include social media activity.
  • Consider installing content filtering to restrict or limit access to social media websites.
  • Ensure that anti-virus and anti-malware controls are updated daily.
  • Train all employees on the policy, and discipline anyone who violates it.
  • Create a policy review schedule so that the policy will be revised to accommodate new social network or technology developments. They are sure to come down the pike, as the media seem to change every day.

To learn more about creating a social media policy, please read my following articles:

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