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Social media policies for Companies

The general framework for how businesses should set up social media policies is still under construction as an increasing number of cases come under scrutiny by the courts and regulators. Presently, a company needs to keep in mind a spaghetti-like tangle of rules, laws and guidelines that can sometimes be at odds.

It is wise for companies to consider their own social media policies as being more like guidelines and less like carved-in-stone rules. Ultimately they should be about educating workers to use common sense when they use social media.

Freedom of speech: Companies should become familiar with the National Labor Relations Act's rules protecting employees' freedom-of-speech rights. The act protects the rights of all employees (not just those in unions) to enjoy freedom of speech in relation to collective bargaining or other discussions of mutual aid. The act is usually interpreted broadly and companies have already been swatted down when they have fired employees for saying and posting things on their personal social media accounts. A rule that controls what employees may post on their personal social media accounts is in danger of being struck down.

This applies even to remarks that would have resulted in an employee's being fired if said in person. The NLRA recognizes that social media is a different animal. Since personal social media accounts are not used for employees’ commercial purposes, even the company’s name and logo can be used unfettered by employees.

A business owner whose corporate social media policy keeps employees from maligning the company or customers or giving out confidential business information should know that workers have certain rights to speak publicly and among themselves. At the same time, businesses can protect themselves from a leak of trade secrets or confidential business information and knowledge.

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Local police departments review social media policies  — WKYC-TV
Oliver says the tensions in Ferguson right now are a prime reason why trust is needed between the officers and the community they serve. He says that's why they have a social media policy.

Social media policies in the workplace  — Lexology
This is an ever-increasing area of litigation. In a series of recent decisions, the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) has found social media policies unlawful because those interfere with employees' rights to act collectively.

Popular Q&A

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What are examples of pharmaceutical companies use of social media?

Unlike other industries, pharmaceuticals is subject to heavy FDA regulations. Therefore, companies operating in this space have been wary of and slow to adopt social media initiatives. Johnson & Johnson is one of the only companies to have a blog ( which is very restricted because of all the regulatory issues. On the professional side, there are several physician-only social networks including Medic Speak and Sermo.

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