Posted by: lennabo | June 5, 2011

Policies we should have on social media sites

Unless you were born yesterday, it’s pretty apparent that social media sites aren’t going anywhere and are likely here to stay, just maybe not Facebook and Twitter specifically. They will be adapting and filtering in newer and more exciting social media sites that will create the new buzz in the world. Yes everyone, Facebook will soon take Myspace’s place as the social media ghetto.

It’s just the way it is, yet in businesses, it’s become a growing trend to utilize these sites for work-related purposes and expanding their brand. This is where our problem comes in, even if you don’t need to update a Twitter feed as part of your job, someone at your company probably has to. And if they decide to share some confidential information about a new contract your company landed on Facebook, what are you going to do about it? Can it be prevented? Can he be fired?

Well actually you can’t do much about it because there’s no policy for it. But that’s why various lawyers and HR professionals have been up to their elbows trying to find ways to create some.

I came across this lawyer,  Joseph T. Bartulis, a partner at the Worcester-based law firm of Fletcher Tilton who created this list of all the potential policies that social media sites should have to prevent situations like this from happening at your company.

1) a clear statement that if an employee misuses social media and/or violates the social media policy, he or she will be subject to discipline, which could include termination.

2) a description of the misuses of social media. This section might refer the employee back to existing sections of the employee handbook on the handling of confidential company information.

3)  a prohibition of the use of any company logos or the company name on any social media sites.

4) a prohibition of the use of social media sites during work hours unless the person’s job requires it.

5)  a prohibition of using a corporate email as the login for personal social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. (Bartulis acknowledges that a corporate email likely makes sense for a business-related social media site like LinkedIn).

6)  a note that the employee cannot violate other company policies on social media sites. For example, sexually harassing a co-worker via Facebook is grounds for termination, just like sexually harassing an employee at the water cooler.

I loved this list, these kinds of issues are important to think about considering the growing presence that social media has on our daily lives. We need to have a way to discipline those that are violating rules that are causing serious problems for their company. I really liked the policy about the company logo considering I see that kind of issue happening all of the time. What if an employee is caught sporting the company logo on his T-shirt at a party drinking heavily? Shouldn’t there be a consequence?

I loved how this article closed with an extremely important concept to remember by Tracy Burns-Martin, executive director of the Waltham-based Northeast Human Resources Association.

Social media sites “can be very powerful, if used correctly.”

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