Most social media policies in the workplace regulate personal use of social media during working hours and stipulate that workers must avoid making any social media communications that could damage the organisation’s business interests or reputation, even indirectly.
We recently advised a client who had found out that its general manager had been posting political tweets on his private twitter account during working hours and in those tweets, highly critical references of a political nature had been made about the owners of the Company’s largest customer. As it was the general manager who largely dealt with the customer, his name was known to them. If the customer had found out about those tweets, it could have withdrawn its business, creating severe financial difficulties for our client.
The monitoring of the twitter account was clearly lawful as it was for legitimate business reasons. On our advice, the Company required the employee’s attendance at a formal investigation meeting when it transpired that it was not the employee who had been posting the tweets but his student son The tweets had been posted without his knowledge. The employee was horrified, immediately apologised and took steps to prevent such a thing happening again.
The facts raise a very interesting legal issue which is not usually covered in social media policies. The potential damage could have been done, regardless of who had posted the tweets. One possibility is to include a clause in the social media policy making employees liable if someone else is allowed access to their twitter account. Then, it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that no inappropriate tweets are posted.
If your organisation does not have an appropriate social media policy, then you should contact us as a matter of urgency; otherwise, you cannot be sure that your company and its reputation is protected.