By: Alexander J. Mezny

Social media can be a fun and rewarding way to share your life and opinions with family, friends and co-workers. Use of social media also presents certain risks and carries with it certain responsibilities.

Protect Yourself

When signing on to any social network, go to the privacy settings first and make the proper adjustments. Default settings are often wide open.

Take care to protect your own safety and identity. Posting too much information or certain kinds of personal information can attract unwanted attention. Remember too that you are in a world where everything can be forwarded.  Personal information such as your address, phone numbers — even your whereabouts — may end up in the hands of someone who could use it to engage in identity theft or to commit other crimes against you. 

Be aware of associations in online social networks. Ensure that your profile, connections, and related content are consistent with how you want to present yourself with colleagues and viewers.

Be respectful

Always be fair and courteous to fellow employees, customers and suppliers. Use common sense and common courtesy. It’s best to obtain permission before commenting about a matter that is meant to be confidential. When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite.  Keep in mind that you are more likely to resolve work related complaints by speaking directly with your co-workers or by utilizing our Open Door Policy than by posting complaints to a social media outlet. Nevertheless, if you decide to post complaints or criticism you should avoid using statements, photographs, video or audio that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating, that disparage customers, coworkers or suppliers, or that might constitute harassment or bullying. Examples of such conduct might include offensive posts meant to intentionally harm someone’s reputation or posts that could contribute to a hostile work environment on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion or any other status protected by law or company policy.

Be honest and accurate

Make sure you are always honest and accurate when posting information or news, and if you make a mistake, correct it quickly. Be open about any previous posts you have altered. Remember that the Internet archives almost everything; therefore, even deleted postings can be searched. Never post any information or rumors that you know to be false about the Company, coworkers, customers, suppliers or competitors.

Post only appropriate content

  • Maintain the confidentiality of Company trade secrets and private or confidential information. Trade secrets may include information regarding the development of systems, processes, products, know-how and technology. Do not post internal reports, policies, procedures or other internal business-related confidential communications.
  • Respect financial disclosure laws. It is illegal to communicate or give a “tip” on inside information to others so that they may buy or sell stocks or securities.
  • Use what you know. Do feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at the Company. Do not create a link from your blog, website or other social networking site to a Company website without identifying yourself as an employee: the Federal Trade Commission requires disclosure of any connection between the endorser and marketer of a product or service. Information about these rules is provided at https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking.
  • Express only your personal opinions. Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for the Company. If the Company is a subject of the content you are creating, be clear and open about the fact that you are an employee and make it clear that your views do not represent those of the Company or coworkers. It is best to include a disclaimer such as “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.”

Using social media at work

Refrain from using social media while on work time or on equipment we provide, unless it is work-related as authorized by your manager. Do not use Company email addresses to register on social networks, blogs or other online tools utilized for personal use.

Know and follow the rules

Carefully read these guidelines and ensure your postings are consistent with our policies. Understand that social media includes all means of communicating or posting information or content of any sort on the Internet, including to your own or someone else’s web log or blog, journal or diary, personal web site, social networking or affinity web site, web bulletin board or a chat room, whether or not associated or affiliated with [Company], as well as any other form of electronic communication.

The same principles and guidelines found in our policies apply to your activities online. Ultimately, you are solely responsible for what you post online. Before creating online content, consider some of the risks and rewards that are involved. Keep in mind that any of your conduct that adversely affects your job performance, the performance of fellow associates or otherwise adversely affects coworkers, customers, suppliers or people who work on behalf of Company or its legitimate business interests, particularly discriminatory remarks, harassment, and threats of violence or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Media contacts

Associates should not speak to the media on the Company’s behalf without contacting ____________________. All media inquiries should be directed to ________________________.

For more information

If you have questions or need further guidance, please contact ___________________________.

Optional: Social Media Administration Rights

Upon the request of the Company or termination of employment, employees are required to transfer all administration rights that they may have in and to any social network pages, such as Facebook or Twitter, that they create or maintain on behalf of the Company (the “Company Pages”) to another account at the Company’s direction. Employees may not, upon or in contemplation of the termination of their employment, exercise any administration rights that they may have that cannot be transferred with respect to any Company Pages without the Company’s express written authorization. Any and all intellectual property rights in and to any Company Pages shall be the property of the Company at all times. This policy does not restrict employee use of their own personal social network pages so long as they comply with the Guidelines set forth above.