Social media is a double edged sword. Businesses are increasingly starting to use it for marketing purposes but also face the risks of their employees abusing it, either at work or through comments they or their friends post online.

Facebook has more than 500 million active users; 200 million of whom access it via their mobile devices. Banning the use of Facebook or any social media applications from computers at work will not prevent employees accessing it on their mobile phones or home computers.

Attempts at controlling all discussions about the workplace or postings by employees' friends about work will most likely infringe industrial law provisions.

The solution will be found in a social media policy that allows you to use social media to improve communication while maintaining productivity and network security.

You must consider a social media policy within the context of your particular workplace environment. The role of the policy is to provide guidance for staff and management, especially in outlining the difference between representations made on social media platforms on behalf of the business and personal use.

An effective policy will assist in protecting your business's reputation by preventing loss of confidential, sensitive or privileged information; ensuring compliance with the law; and protecting your business against claims for defamation, unlawful dismissal, cyber-bullying and harassment and invasion of privacy.

You will also have to review your company's network security policy to enable the safe and secure use of social media sites.

When formulating a social media policy, you should consider:

  • type of use;
  • nature of the policy (what it should include);
  • the law, particularly industrial and anti-discrimination laws, codes of conduct and workplace agreements;
  • consequences of breaching the policy; and
  • the policy's currency.

Speak to Peter McNamara about the legal issues you should be aware of when formulating your workplace social media policy.


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