Social Media Policies

The topic of legality of Social Media Policies has been addressed by three memos by the Acting General Counsel (AGC) of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In the 3rd memo the AGC provided a sample policy that he thought was legal, see sample. Before using this or any of the sample policies below, we urge employers to consult with experienced labor legal counsel before implemening any such policy and before taking any employment action under such policy.

Sample Social Media Policies from Members of Printing Industries of America.

Sample #1:

Anti-Blogging Policy-Employees are prohibited from engaging in web logging or “blogging” during working time or while using Company-equipment. Employees “blogging” (including but not limited to use of MySpace, Facebook, BlogSpot, Friendster, or Linked In) while not on working time and while not using Company equipment are reminded that they must adhere to the Company’s confidentiality policy and that they must avoid the disclosure of trade secrets or other information regarding the Company or any of it’s owners, managers or employees which would constitute trade libel or defamation. Expect that if you publish something anywhere online, the Company or your co-workers will see it.

Sample #2:

SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES

‘Social media‘ is the term commonly given to websites, online tools and other Interactive Communication Technologies (ICT) which allow users to interact with each other in some way – by sharing information, opinions, knowledge and interests. Blogs, podcasts, ‘wikis’, message boards, social bookmarking websites, social networking websites (such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook) and content sharing websites (such as Flickr, YouTube). Use of social media should never interfere with an employee’s work time.

The Company understands that employees may maintain or contribute to personal blogs, message boards, conversation pages and other forms of personal social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) outside of their job function and may periodically post information about their job or personal activities on these outlets.  If an employee posts work-related information, they are required to exercise good judgment and take the following into consideration. 

Employees are obligated to be aware of and comply with any applicable provisions set forth in the Company’s Employee Handbook. Employees may not disclose confidential or proprietary company information or similar information of business partners, customers, clients or potential clients who have shared such information with the Company.  The Company’s intellectual property, name, logos, trademarks, and copyrights may not be used in any manner.  Further, employees are prohibited from posting their Company email address to a website, unless the site is used for Company business or approved professional purposes.

If an employee is engaging on external social media platforms personally, they should not use the company’s name in their identity (e.g. username, “handle” or screen name), nor should they speak as a representative of the company, unless authorized to do so in writing. All posted content is subject to review by management in accordance with the Company’s employee policies.

Employees are responsible for acting in a manner that is consistent with our company Core Values.  To that end, employees are expected to be courteous, respectful, and thoughtful about how other employees may be affected by postings.  Confidential, incomplete, inaccurate, inappropriate, threatening, harassing or poorly worded postings may be harmful to other employees, damage employee relationships, undermine the Company’s effort to encourage teamwork, or violate an existing policy or harm the Company.  Employees bear full responsibility for the material they post on personal blogs or other social media. Compliance monitoring by senior members of management, may be done and data posted may be accessed by the Company at any time without prior notice if public information or transmitted from Company property.

For purposes of this policy, a “personal blog” or “social media” includes personal websites and all forms of on-line community activities such as on-line social networks, message boards, conversation pages, and chat rooms. 

Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including separation.  If you have any questions regarding this policy and its application, please contact your manager or the Human Resources Department.

Sample #3:

Social Media Policy
Just as the internet has changed our world forever, social media has changed the way people communicate. The company views social media and networking sites as powerful tools to strengthen our brand and to further your personal reputations as staffing experts.

Social media can take many different forms, including internet forums, blogs & microblogs, online profiles, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, and voice over IP, to name just a few. Examples of social media applications are LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, Second Life, Yahoo groups, Wordpress, ZoomInfo – the list is endless.

When you are participating in social networking, you are representing both yourselves personally and the company. It is not our intention to restrict your ability to have an online presence and to mandate what you can and cannot say. We believe social networking is a very valuable tool and continue to advocate the responsible involvement of all company employees in this space. While we encourage this online collaboration, we would like to provide you with a company policy and set of guidelines for appropriate online conduct and to avoid the misuse of this communication medium.

Policy Guidelines:

  • Do not post any financial, confidential, sensitive or proprietary information about the company or any of our clients and candidates.
  • Speak respectfully about our current, former and potential customers, partners, employees and competitors. Do not engage in name-calling or behavior that will reflect negatively on your or the company’s reputations. The same guidelines hold true for the company’s vendors and business partners.
  • Beware of comments that could reflect poorly on you and the company. Social media sites are not the forum for venting personal complaints about supervisors, co-workers, or the company.
  • As an employee, be aware that you are responsible for the content you post and that information remains in cyberspace forever.
  • Use privacy settings when appropriate. Remember, the internet is immediate and nothing posted is ever truly private nor does it expire.
  • If you see unfavorable opinions, negative comments or criticism about yourself or the company, do not try to have the post removed or send a written reply that will escalate the situation. Forward this information to our internal Human Resources and Marketing Departments.
  • If you are posting to personal networking sites and are speaking about job related content or about the company, identify yourself as a (insert name of company) employee and use a disclaimer and make it clear that these views are not reflective of the views of the company.  The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of (insert name of company).”

The Social Networking Policy 7/09

  • Many sites like Facebook and Twitter blur the lines between business and personal. Keep this in mind and make sure to have a balance of information that shows both your professional and personal sides. And always balance negative with positive comments.
  • Be respectful of others. Think of what you say online in the same way as statements you might make to the media, or emails you might send to people you don’t know. Stick to the facts, try to give accurate information and correct mistakes right away.
  • Do not post obscenities, slurs or personal attacks that can damage both your reputation as well as the company’s.
  • When posting to social media sites, be knowledgeable, interesting, honest and add value. The company’s outstanding reputation and brand is a direct result of our employees and their commitment to uphold our core values of Integrity, Dedication, Teamwork and Excellence.
  • Do not infringe on copyrights or trademarks. Don’t use images without permission and remember to cite where you saw information if it’s not your own thoughts.
  • Be aware that you are not anonymous when you make online comments. Information on your networking profiles is published in a very public place. Even if you post anonymously or under a pseudonym, your identity can still be revealed.
  • If contacted by the media, refer them to the Marketing Department.

The company may monitor content out on the web and reserves the right to remove posts that violate this policy.

Users who violate the Policy may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment. If you have any questions about this policy or a specific posting out on the web, please contact Human Resources.

Sample #4:

Social Media Policy

It is understandable that you may wish to participate on social media sites (YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.). However, the same principles of professionalism, anti-harassment, ethics and confidentiality that apply at work, also apply online. Remember that social media websites are public sites and, therefore, not private.

  1. Personal blogs/online comments should have clear disclaimers that the views expressed by the author in the blogs/online comments are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of the company. Be clear and write in first person. Make your writing clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the company.
  2. Information published on your blogs/online comments should comply with the company’s confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary data policies. This also applies to comments posted on others blogs, forums, and social networking sites. We have confidentiality agreements with our clients, and they MUST be respected. Violation of any confidentiality agreement, subjects the employee to immediate termination and potential legal action.
  3. Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.
  4. Social media activities should not interfere with work commitments. LinkedIn and several other online databases are necessary work tools for employees in certain positions. Please keep your personal online activities at home.
  5. Your online presence reflects the company. Be aware that your actions captured via images, posts, or comments can reflect that of our company.
  6. Do not reference or cite company clients, partners, or customers without their express consent. In all cases, do not publish any information regarding any client.
  7. Respect copyright laws, and reference or cite sources appropriately. Plagiarism applies online as well.
  8. Company logos and trademarks may not be used without written consent.
  9. Remember that you are legally responsible for what you write in your personal social media sites. Individuals have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene.
  10. The absence of, or lack of explicit reference to any specific site, does not limit the extent of the application of this policy.

Published on Monday, January 18, 2010 (updated 05/29/2014)

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