Crafting Good Social Media Policies Means Walking a Fine Line

Lora Bentley
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Eight Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy

A list of points that you should consider while crafting your company's social media policy.

I've lost count how many times in the last year we've stressed the importance of social media use policies for your business. Ten? Twenty-five? I'm really not sure. At the same time, however, it's important to ensure that those policies don't infringe on employees' rights.


Nothing illustrates this principle better than a wrongful termination case involving an ambulance service in Connecticut, and an illegal employee discipline case involving a Reuters reporter and a Twitter post. In the former, an ambulance worker was fired after making disparaging remarks about her supervisor on Facebook. In the latter, the reporter was reprimanded after posting a comment on Twitter that seemed to indicate the company did not deal fairly with union members.


In both instances, the National Labor Relations Board sided with the employees, arguing that social media policies could not be enforced in a manner that prevented the employees from engaging in protected activity, or more specifically, prevented them from discussing working conditions with coworkers. As such, the line between what is necessary and what is acceptable can be rather thin and, at times, fuzzy.


Though the balance makes perfect sense in theory, how is that theory best put into practice? In a recent InformationWeek piece, CompTIA Chief Legal Officer Dan Liutikas lays out several steps that should minimize risk - whether social media comes into play on the hiring side of the equation or the firing side of the equation. The top two, in his words:

  • Maintain consistent protocols to screen applicants' social media profiles and information regardless of their race, gender, or other protected class status.
  • Develop a basic understanding of the activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act.

If you understand which activities are protected, you are better prepared to avoid policies that would prevent them.

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