322 • A Guide to IT Contracting: Checklists, Tools, and Techniques
Social media (sometimes referred to as “social networking” or “Web 2.0”)
is an integral part of people’s lives. People are participating in social media
at staggering rates through the many social media outlets that now exist.
Many companies have recognized the benets that can be achieved through
the use of social media in the workplace, including supporting the company
brand, providing a forum for customer feedback, and building professional
networks. e use of social media can help credential your business, connect
with prospective clients and customers, and support professional develop-
ment eorts. Furthermore, with the increasing number of daily interactions
with social media, every company must be aware of how unfettered, uncon-
trolled use of social media by the company’s employees—both inside and
outside the work environment—can expose the company to undue risks.
ose risks can be addressed and reduced through the adoption of an appro-
priate company social media policy. is chapter provides an overview of
company social media policies and why such policies are important to a
company, and includes guidelines for development and implementation.
While what precisely constitutes “social media” is constantly debated by
the media, technology industry professionals, and consumers, it is clear
that social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication
into interactive dialogues and into the creation and exchange of “user-
generated content.” e widespread use of social media in individuals’
lives means there is an inevitable overlap with those individuals’ places
of employment, which subjects a company to legal risks. For example, an
employee promoting the company’s products may trigger Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) scrutiny, making proprietary information public can
have trade secret implications or violate a nondisclosure agreement with
a third party, and discriminatory or violent statements may implicate
harassment or other serious charges. Even if an employee does not intend
to make his or her communications public, the ease with which informa-
tion is shared and forwarded via social media technology may result in
public dissemination of information that was intended to remain private.
e risks may also be far more direct: a dissatised employee may post
intentionally derogatory comments about the company, co-workers, or
company leadership, damaging the company’s reputation.
A social media policy outlines for employees the company guidelines
and principles for communicating in the online world. e policy is