Create a social media policy to protect your company and employees

Published: November 2, 2010 by ofonseca

Facebook and other social networks have generated a lot of buzz recently due to their data privacy settings and policies.  Unfortunately, many consumers are not aware of these settings and openly share their personally identifiable information.  This reckless sharing has resulted in damages including identity theft and hacked bank accounts.  A recent Ponemon Institute study found that social media users are at greater risk of physical and identity theft due to the information shared online.

Your company may not be active on Facebook or Twitter, but undoubtedly your employees are.  How could what your employees say affect your company or their employment relationship with your firm?  One prime example is the “Cisco Fatty” tweet that cost a recent graduate an internship at Cisco. This example, and many others, illustrates the importance for companies to create a social media policy for their employees.  The policy serves as a tool to help a company monitor and manage what is said online and may help employees think twice before tweeting what’s on their mind.

Some companies simply cover social media use guidelines through a confidentiality agreement or include a few sentences in the employee handbook.  However, some human resource experts recommend creating a separate policy that is discrete and accessible by employees at all times.  Now what is covered in these policies can vary greatly and is contingent on how active the company is involved in social media.

Consult your legal and/or compliance team to define the guidelines that best fit with your company cyber security policies.  The process will be time well spent.