Twitter & Privacy: How do you manage staff’s use of 140 characters

We spoke to Wanda Goldwag, Non Executive Chair of True North Human Capital, the Human Capital Management Consultancy to get their advice on the issue of managing staff’s use of those 140 characters
We have all had the day when we want to tell our friends that our boss has wandering hands or that the product we get paid to promote is “so last year” but Twitter isn’t private your friends may comment on what you say, work colleagues may also have access to your twitter account and if you name your company your rant may come up in a Google search.
In a widely reported case a candidate twittered about his dilemma “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” Not surprisingly Cisco took offence.
As an individual you need to remember no matter how informal a forum you consider twitter or facebook or any other social media site to be that those you don’t want to see what you have said may get sight of it. If you wouldn’t tell your boss in person something you shouldn’t say it on twitter either.
There is also a genuine dilemma for employers what do you do if a staff member tells you that they didn’t come to work because they had flu but all over facebook you can see them partying drunkenly to 3am at a hen do.
The short answer is that you need a clear unambiguous social media policy just as in the past you needed rules and guidance about the content of emails.
Employers need to cover the following issues:
  • How what is said or done in non company time will be handled such as a general clause about not bringing the company into disrepute
  • What staff members can disclose,  is it for example ok to talk about working long hours because a new product launch is happening or is that a breach of confidentiality
  • What will happen if in talking about the company the staff member uses racist, sexist or offensive language that would not be acceptable in the company’s email policy
  • If you are going to monitor the content of your employees’ social media posts
  • It is also wise to make a broad statement such as 
  • Staff members using social media must be aware that it is subject to the full range of laws applying to other communications, including copyright, breach of confidence, defamation, privacy, contempt of court, harassment, vilification and anti-discrimination legislation, the creation of contractual obligations, and criminal laws. Social media can be the subject of legal proceedings.