VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Keeping up with social media and the policies related to its use

A generation of workers is entering the workforce without the slightest notion of what life was like before the internet. The subsequent advent of social media saw older people struggling to keep up while s younger generation quickly adapted to what they saw as a logical next step.

Employers as well find themselves surrounded by the ever-changing digital landscape. Texting, tweeting and Facebook posting have become as common as face-to-face interactions. With the ever-changing nature of social media, companies struggle to keep up by continually updating related policies, some as old as MySpace.

A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that most employers have policies in place of social media use at work. Specific data shows:

  • Fifty-one percent of workplaces have rules about using social media while on the job while 45 percent lack any policies
  • Thirty-two percent of employers have policies regarding internet communications by employees while 63 percent do not
  • Employees working for companies with social medical policies are less likely to use it for personal reasons while 77 percent of workers use social media regardless of policies

When walking that fine line while taking into consideration First Amendment rights, employers should consider the following:

  • The continuing evolution of the term “social media” requires specific and narrow language defining it as all methods and means of communication for posting content on the internet
  • Affirming freedom of speech while protecting a company’s reputation is possible by confirming policies that restrict employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act
  • Employees communicating any information about their employer should be required to identify their company affiliation and avoid the use of work emails to register accounts
  • When expressing opinions, employees should confirm that their opinions are there’s and do not reflect those of their employers
  • Confirm that social media postings should comply with discrimination and harassment policies
  • Clarifying that trade secrets, internal reports, business communications and other forms of confidential information should never be discussed online

Common sense by employees should prevail when it comes to social media use. However, continuing education and reinforcement can go a long way as well to maintain a positive digital and analog culture.

For more information on your company’s employment policies and procedures, contact VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, at 606-618-0698.

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