Social Media Policies

Social Media & Risk To Employers

 

Social media can bring significant benefits to the Company, particularly for building relationships with current and potential clients, customers and/or suppliers.  However, it is important that employees who use social media within the Company do so in a way that enhances the company’s prospects.  

 

There are many risks to the use of social media within a company, which can include:

 

1) a  misjudged status update or inappropriate tweet, which can generate complaints or damage a company’s reputation.  This can be caused either whilst using social media at work using office equipment or in an employees spare time on their own equipment at home.  With the old distinction of work and home breaking down, an employer can take disciplinary action if it impacts upon the company  regardless of whether it was posted at home or work, or on the employees own equipment or the employers.

2) An obvious risk to employers is employees wasting time through accessing social media regularly during working hours.  By taking a minute to scroll through posts, it is easy to lose tract of time and before you know it, 5 – 10 minutes have passed.  Multiply these minutes with the number of employees in the company and the amount of working time lost can be substantial.

3) A breach of confidentiality could arise and is potentially very dangerous for a company.  This includes any disclose of trade secrets, information relating to clients or the disclosure of any information that could result in a claim of breach of confidence.  A breach of confidentiality could occur out of malice by a disgruntled employee, or it may be unintentional, for example, by an employee celebrating an achievement in work of signing up a new client.

4)  Another threat is from employees defaming others using the employer’s social media platforms.  Employees speaking their own mind on social media through blogging and tweeting.  Being sat in front of a computer can encourage bravery and result in strong opinions being expressed  through controversial comments.  There is a high risk of these comments getting re-tweeted or copied very quickly and spreading widely, especially if it involves a well-known person or organisation.

5) Employers need to carefully consider the pros and cons of “associating” with their employees online.  On the one hand doing so helps to foster a community spirit, on the other they may discover more than they might wish to, as might other employees.  Employers not only have a liability to employees, but also to prospective employees and should be discouraged from viewing social medial platforms during the recruitment process to avoid the possibility of a claim relating to candidates ‘protected characteristics.

To remove the risks associated with social media, employers should educate their employees and be clear in setting out what is appropriate behaviour and what would constitute unacceptable use, through a well drafted social media policy.  

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