“Whether they collect customer information, use social media to screen employees, market, blog, or use text messaging, [businesses] need to become aware of and have a basic understanding of the applicable laws and regulations. They also need to become familiar with the rules and procedures established by the specific social media platform. No company is immune from the risks inherent in the access to and use of personal information and social media.” (Gray Plant Mooty)
Ok, so can you tell when social media is putting your business at risk? Start with these five activities:
1. When your employees manage social media accounts from home on the weekend:
“Employers should adopt a clear policy to address whether work by non-exempt employees outside of the office is expected or even allowed, especially when employees are provided with smartphones or remote access to the network. Employers should also require non-exempt employees to record all time they work outside of the office. […] Finally, employers should also consider requiring non-exempt employees to obtain permission to work overtime. Addressing these issues in written policies both educates employees about their responsibilities and protects the employer from unnecessary expense and potential liability.”
2. When your employees can walk out the door with the company’s Twitter password:
“If your employees are asked to use social media to market and promote your business’s products or services, have written agreements that make it clear that the company owns the account, including customer lists, friends, and followers and that the employee relinquishes any rights to the account when he or she leave.”
3. When an employee can post a copyrighted image to the company blog:
“It is important … that businesses create and enforce policies with respect to what it posts and what it allows employees to post on social media. The approach with the least risk is to only post original content and to never repost other users’ content unless and until the following questions can be answered:
- Does the user actually own the copyright in the work?
- If so, does the user give the business permission to reuse the work?
- Is any attribution necessary in order to reuse the work?
- Are there any other permissions that need to be obtained, such as the right of publicity from any people whose images are used or products that are displayed in the work?
5. When you don’t archive and maintain records of company social media activity:
“Twitter tweets, blog posts, LinkedIn profiles, text messages, YouTube videos, email, and any other online content may be considered electronic business records and subject to subpoena or otherwise used as evidence to support a lawsuit. All organizations are required by law to manage and maintain their electronic business records in a way that is compliant with the rules governing the discovery of evidence. Discovery is the phase of litigation when parties to a lawsuit must produce all documents relevant to the case. The process of requesting and collecting electronically stored information is called “e-discovery”. E-discovery has become a significant part of most litigation today and adds an additional unexpected cost to the already expensive litigation costs. Failure to produce relevant electronically stored information can result in enormous financial penalties and sanctions imposed by the court.”
In collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the attorneys at law firm Gray Plant Mooty recently put together a comprehensive, plain-English guide to social media for businesses that addresses the multitude of issues raised by social media in the workplace. Even issues you may have never considered…It’s an excellent resource for anyone who oversees social media usage in the workplace, and available in full here.