Exactly how risky is social media?

by Kathleen Payne07 Feb 2013

CompliSpace have released an eBook in response to the increase of reported social media incidents occurring in Australian workplaces. The book provides examples of potential risks with suggested responses and advice on policy development.

Figures in the eBook show that every minute of every day:

  • 100,000 tweets are sent
  • 684,478 pieces of content are shared on Facebook
  • 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube
  • 47,000 apps are downloaded from the App Store
  • 3,600 photos are shared on Instagram
  • 571 websites are created

Author of the eBook, CompliSpace founder and managing director James Field said “barely a week goes by now without hearing a story about an employee who complained about their employer openly on Twitter and it then went viral, or an employer who fired a staff member by sending them a Facebook message.”

Field said employers needed to understand the potential risks that social media posed to their business, consider the consequences, and take steps to manage these risks.

Things that could strengthen an employer’s position if a social media issue did arise are:

  • A clearly defined internal grievance procedures policy (which the employee should use instead of complaining on social media);
  • A social media – personal usage policy which refers back to the employment contract and reiterates the fact that posting negative comments about the organisation and work colleagues is not acceptable behaviour;
  • An internal training program which covers personal use of social media;
  • Robust record keeping procedures to evidence staff training in the organisation’s policies and the employee’s knowledge of these policies; and
  • Discipline and termination procedures to ensure that when the social media event occurs, management is well-versed to manage the situation following principles of substantive and procedural fairness.

It is also likely that organisations will need two social media policies, says Field.

“The obvious policy that all businesses will need is a social media personal usage policy which provides guidelines to staff when they use their own personal social media accounts. Secondly, if your organisation has a social media presence, it will need to develop a social media business usage policy.”


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