Discover more from How to Lead Everybody (with their permission)
Social Media Policy
Does your firm have one?
“The internet? Is that thing still around?” ~ Homer Simpson
A reasonable, well-thought-out social media policy is important. If your company has one, consider reviewing it annually with your HR person/department to make sure it still covers new developments. If your firm does not have one, consider developing one and including it in all future contracts.
What should be in a social media policy?
Basically, be clear about your expectations. If you do not want your employees posting racist/homophobic/misogynistic/antisemitic rants, include a clause about not disparaging those groups. If you don’t want them posting material that may be illegal, immoral, or reflect poorly on the company (e.g, pornography, drug use, etc.), have a policy about that. If you have proprietary material (copyrighted work, a recipe for the secret sauce, etc.) you can include those in a nondisclosure agreement, so they can’t be shared in other ways, either.
Isn’t this a violation of their First Amendment rights?
Not for private companies. The First Amendment protects people from being charged with a crime for exercising free speech (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”), but saying stupid, cruel, or racist stuff still has consequences. Free speech does not mean consequence-free speech. Firing someone for posting a racist rant that reflects poorly on your private company is legal. You have a responsibility to protect your company from that type of negative publicity, and you have a responsibility to protect your other employees from the creation of that kind of hostile work environment. It’s a lot easier for everyone—and will prevent most incidents—if the policy is clearly stated and understood before anything like this comes up.
What CAN’T be included?
Companies CAN’T fire someone for posting truthful statements about the company (e.g., unsafe working conditions, harassment experiences, etc. or advising someone to get legal advice about a workplace incident), and never put any restrictions on posting about unions—organizing, supporting, encouraging people to join, etc. are all protected.
Can a company enforce a social media policy even if the post was made outside of work hours and from a non-work location?
Yup. You can also have a policy about not being on personal social media accounts while on company time, too.
Who keeps asking these rhetorical questions?