|Courtesy of: LinkedIn|
Take a look at this short video about social media statistics in the workplace. The video is actually an ad for companies to purchase social media training for employees, but some of the opening information is quite interesting.
What people do on their private pages should not necessarily be monitored by one’s place of employment. Cyber-bullying is wrong, but termination by an employer may be unreasonable depending on what has been said. While social media sites, such as Facebook “fits clearly in the bull’s-eye of First Amendment protections,…state institutions might want to be particularly careful not to block Facebook on any grounds that can be construed as pertaining to free speech” (Mitrano, 2006, p. 8). Thus, employers must be careful that their policies are not so broad that they restrict actions protected by federal labor law (NLRB Report, 2012, para 3).
On the other side, companies have codes of conduct that may outline social media policies. As Scott mentions, “rather than focus on putting guidelines on blogs and other social media like Facebook and Twitter (the technology), it is better to focus on guiding the way people behave” (2013, p. 92). For example, employers can restrict public rants by employees that do not involve discussion with other colleagues (Halpern, 2012, para 2). In addition, employers can recommend that their employees use their judgment and “caution employees that if their conduct violates the rights of other employees or third parties, it may result in liability to these individuals” (para 10). Employees can also face civil suits, defamation, or libel (Mitrano, 2006, p. 8). There have been cases where employees who are fired for their social media posts are upheld in court. According to the NLRB, “an employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made in relation to group activity among employees” (The NLRB and social media, 2012, para 7).
While I already knew this, one of the social media privacy tips that resonated with me was that Facebook owns all of the content its users post on the site (Mitrano, 2006, p. 9). This includes photos, comments, and even personal information, which Facebook and other social media sites can then use at their discretion or even sell to marketers and advertisers. Although people will not stop using the sites, it should make them think before they post.
Halpern, S.J. (2012). When is your company’s social media policy an unfair labor practice? Recent NLRB decisions offer long-awaited guidance for employers. Retrieved from http://www.natlawreview.com/article/when-your-company-s-social-media-policy-unfair-labor-practice-recent-nlrb-decisions-
The NLRB and social media (2012). National Labor Relations Board. Retrieved from https://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/fact-sheets/nlrb-and-social-media
NLRB report: Employers’ social media policies must be narrow, must not restrict right to engage in protected activities (2012, Feb 1). National Law Review. Retrieved from http://www.natlawreview.com/article/nrlb-report-employers-social-media-policies-must-be-narrow-must-not-restrict-right-t
Mitrano, T. (2006). A wider world: Youth, privacy, and social networking technologies (EDUCAUSE Review). Educause.edu, 41(6): 16-29.
Scott, D.M. (2013). The new rules of marketing & PR. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.