Social networking sites are everywhere. Nowhere do they present
more of a challenge than in the workplace. The challenge of
monitoring social networking in the workplace is American not
likely to disappear. Concerns around social networking in the
workplace are similar to those of the early 90s when the internet
and email were the newest and latest workplace technology issues.
Internet policies provide a good framework from which to develop
social networking policies.
Some of the most recent and most publicized social media
"incidents" in the workplace include:
Greg Smith's public resignation from Goldman Sachs in March
where he accused his former employer of bad business practices,
generated a Twitter frenzy within minutes of being published in the
New York Times opinion section.
A part-time employee assigned to assist at the scene of a
suicide in Ontario used his phone to post photos of the deceased to
his personal Facebook page with a caption identifying the
A New Brunswick teacher suffered post-traumatic stress disorder
syndrome after several former students posted false and defamatory
content on Facebook.
An American IT staffing firm has sued one of its former
employees alleging that she violated the terms of a non-compete
agreement through her conduct on LinkedIn by soliciting her former
employer's employees and clients and by communicating and
connecting with them through the LinkedIn professional
In short, these are new variations of old workplace issues with
a global twist (eg., defamation, violation of confidentiality,
workplace bullying, harassment, non-competition and
non-solicitation). This conduct may also cause lost productivity
and brand damage. Employees often spend an excessive amount of time
at work on social networking sites and may also make derogatory
comments about an employer, client or customer that can negatively
impact business. Employers who have not done so already should
revisit existing policies to ensure that these issues are
Social networking has the potential to transform how we conduct
business. Its power cannot be overlooked. Statistics demonstrate
People spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook;
More than 250 million people access Facebook through their
More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with
30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each
190 million average Tweets per day occur on Twitter (May
Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day;
Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day.
Employers should consider what limitations are necessary for
individual employees who engage in social networking and have a
clear plan to develop social networking so that it is
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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