The Dangers of Social Networking

Posted: September 8, 2012 in Social networking

Companies are being encouraged to introduce well-drafted media policies to ensure employees know their boundaries and the consequences if their actions do not comply with expectations.

The Medical Protection Society’s head of medical services, Dr Nick Clements has reported that as much as a third of all society members use Facebook on a daily basis.   ‘It is all too easy for boundaries between our professional and private lives to become blurred’ said Dr Nick Clements.  Although a smaller crowd use Twitter the same dangers apply.  A single post on any of these sites can jeopardise the individual’s career as well as the company for which they work.

This policy swings both ways.  The private lives of the employee should not be readily available to clients and the general public.  Developments in the technology world mean that almost anything can be tracked. Should companies therefore ban the usage of personal social media altogether?

Though some believe ‘anonymously’ posting information is safe, this is not the case.  Identity can also be traced via an IP address.

Companies and medical organisations alike, must decide to what degree they will or will not tolerate the personal and business use of social media.  They would be advised to offer training for employees concerning their involvement and usage limitations with sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  For example, some Doctors use doctors.net.uk and must not forget that the same code of conduct applies for such sites as for the more obvious social network media.

Ultimately, employees must remember that their behaviour can be traced, anything written be it for work or recreational purposes must be entirely compatible with employment standards.  Every company should have an up to date, accessible and comprehensive social media policy applicable to all past and present employees.

If you are unsure as to what such a policy should contain, or how it can be enforced against employees who breach it, we can help you draft one or deal with a difficult employee who has put your company’s reputation in jeopardy.

© Brian Miller, Solicitor, 2012. This article may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.

Brian is a solicitor at Stone King LLP.  For further news and information on legal topics of interest, please visit Brian’s other blogs:

Brian Miller Solicitor’s Games Law Blog
Brian Miller Solicitor’s IP Law Blog
Brian Miller Solicitor’s Privacy & Data Protection Law Blog

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