Company Social Media and its legal issues

Social Media Legal Risks

Social Media Legal Risks

Old world principles are slowly evolving with the new including in today’s social media terms and conditions for instance with the “click wrap” and “browse wrap” agreement signaling user acceptance of a vendor’s terms & conditions which is basically applying the old world principle (making sure the user/individual knows what they are agreeing to) to new world situations. But sometimes employees and individuals will always come up with ways to beat the system, to the point where there are now conditions dealing with these things in employment contracts. If you start a social media account for example a “Twitter” account and you have built contacts within the account, if you have left the company- fired/quit, then you are to unlink yourself from the account and those contacts because you have lost the authorization to access that information and that companies contacts because it is exclusively that company’s twitter account.

It all boils down to your company policy and where it stands on social media because necessary legal precautions need to be taken when dealing with these issues. As stated by Network Business Services, Inc – “Business owners also should be aware that there could be a lot of misinformation shared through this social media platform regarding their business due to security issues that Facebook accounts have.”- Social Media does your small business. Many risks are involved with companies and social media aspects of the internet not everything is positive. Some legal risks include

  • Confidential Information – status updates about confidential company information, inferable posts
  • Employment- Wrongful dismissal – posting threatening message on facebook, was it threatening? Was this covered and included in his contract or company policy?
  • Technology Risks- Viruses malware
  • Statutory risk – copyright, privacy defamation for example
  • Reputation risks
  • Occupations and Organization specific risks (each company has its own different risks, obligations

An example of a purely hypothetical situation between a company having social media legal issues could be –

Selected Organization: McDonalds

Sector/Business: Fast food industry

Services: fast food services

Legal risks for chosen organization:

Leakage of confidential information, Employment risks, statutory risks, reputation risks as well as occupation and organization specific risks. As with all business’s the same risks apply to social networking, anything that could say on their social media accounts that could affect they business’s reputation.

Justification as to why these risks are relevant:

These risks are relevant because they relate to the company’s specific risks of customer service and its business being in the fast food industry. Anything that reflects badly on the business could potentially cost them customers, business partners and so forth.

Scenarios of how these could apply:

For example an employee of McDonalds has a Facebook account which she has posted a comment in regards to her work role and its customers it a negative way. If her employer found out about the post, the employer has the right to have a meeting with the employee to discuss the issue for which she has most likely signed an agreement upon starting the job of some form of contract/policy, she could potentially be in breach of this agreement and be fired for the comment portraying the company/business in a negative way that they would find offensive, leaking confidential information about daily business or its secret ingredients perhaps.

What the organizations Social Media Policy should attempt to address:

The company’s social media policy should be addressed on a wider scale about the risks and issues rather than just have them sign a document the employee only reads the second they’re employed because it could have resulted in further action if the company took some sort of legal action towards such discrepancies. Although this issue will most likely still occur in the future, if employees have this issue about social networking brought to their attention in a more confronting way, the company could possibly avoid this problem less often.

References

1. Legal Risks of social networking for business

2. Some Social Media/Networking related McDonald’s stories where employee’s have been either fired/threat of loosing job

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4 thoughts on “Company Social Media and its legal issues

  1. Nice post Mihi!

    I found it very formal and understood everything you said. Well at least most of it because having the flu doesn’t make you think straight…

    Do you know of any cases that McDonald’s have been involved with for social media regarding inappropriate posts, spam etc?

  2. Hi Mihi

    Great post! I like how you have broken down the topic into very clear and well defined sections. Being on the topic of legal risks can get confusing, so your structure really helped. As for the content, very informative, you’ve kept it clean and concise, while covering the topic. Look forward to your future posts.

    – Matt

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