Over the last decade, social media has become increasingly influential to day-to-day life. The effects of social media reach almost all aspects of society- including business. Although social media can be used as a powerful tool for businesses, it can also create substantial risk for employers. The use of social media by employees or company officials can create a multitude of legal concerns including:
- Data security- if social media is used on work computers, employees can click on links that are unsafe and allow outside access to company data.
- Confidentiality- allowing employees to post freely about their employment may lead to information that is meant to be private to the company being posted for the public.
- Defamation- Unhappy employees may make posts aimed to damage the company’s reputation.
- Harm to Reputation- Employees may post inappropriate or offensive content. When the employee is traced to their employment, this can cause long-term harm to the company’s reputation.
In order to avoid these issues, it is important for a company to have strong social media policies. Companies cannot completely dictate when their employees post on social media because of protections of freedom of speech, but they can implement some limitations as a condition of employment. One of the most important components of a social media policy is a prohibition of sharing confidential information and employee education on the dangers of posting such information. It is also important to educate employees on how their personal life and professional life intersects on social media platforms, and any content they post may speak for the company as a whole.
A strong and well-worded social media policy is important to protect businesses from liability and harm to their reputation. The attorneys at Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fisher & Bouslog, P.C. are experienced in handling complex business and employment issues. Contact us at (515) 288-5000 to discuss company policies with our firm.
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