Blog Post #1: Right or Wrong for Social Media use in the Corporate World

We have all heard, seen, or use it. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, Instagram, Google, YouTube, WordPress, Wix.com, and MySpace are a few of among many social media sites named. The question is…is it fair game for employers to access employee’s blogs or social media sites? Is it fair game for employee’s to post about whatever is on their mind in the current workplace? 

The answers to the questions above are still in debate. Some employers use blogs and/or social media sites to help incorporate their business or company. Like for say… Fortune 500 companies. Do consumers rely heavier on what Fortune 500 companies have to post via blogs or social media? Yes, we do from a consumer standpoint. Given the facts, according to Amanda Dodge, about 34% of Fortune 500 companies have corporate blogs. For social media, ” 77% of companies use Twitter, 70% use Facebook, and 69% use YouTube” (Dodge 2013). It gives a chance towards consumers to see what the current status of some companies are up to, plus new products being produced. It also gives a chance for employee’s to test what they cannot or can say in blogs or social media site. For example, “you can’t rely on the first amendment” (Guerin 2014). Many employee’s are mistaken by first amendment rights, according to Lisa Guerin. We, employees, believe that the first amendment protects our free speech. However, it protects our free speech from the government not private employers (Guerin 2014). Therefore, employees are misguided in information and blog postings when it comes to employers. In addition, there are ways on the do’s and dont’s of corporate blogging and social media. Let’s go back to the basic facts:

  • Do not harass or criticize your coworkers (though it may be amusing to other peers, it will not be so amusing to the employer reading).
  • Do not post anything racist or sexist (the same thought applies from above).
  • Never reveal companies trade secrets, a huge NO NO.
  • Do not vent in blogs about workplace problems unless you solve them out directly with that coworker first.
  • Blog anonymously or restrict user visibility.
  • All points cited by Guerin 2014. 

Getting the picture?? On the other hand, Dan Pontefract points out interesting details on how social media is moving backwards in the workplace. He converses about how companies are more involved with the digital age, in which he also discusses about how companies are limiting the use of personal accounts of employees. “In nearly all the jurisdictions, an employer is permitted to prohibit the use of social media sites during work, both on equipment provided by the employer and on the employee’s own devices” (Pontefract 2014). So, what does this mean exactly? Lets break it down…

  • Your own device can be blocked from certain social sites like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Employer does not a right to access what shows on your monitor, but has right to block it.
  • If connected to company wifi, than employer has right to block certain sites.
  • All points cited by Pontefract 2014.

It gives a whole new meaning to the social media and blogging work status for employers and employees alike in 2014. So, going back to the questions in the beginning…do employers or employees have a right? The answer is yes and no. Yes, to employers limiting our social media and yes, to employers deciding on what an employee should post or not. No, to employees posting whatever they want and make it seem right in the work place and no, to employees speaking their minds when it comes in terms to social media and blogging. In conclusion, employers and employees must watch (and monitor) social media sites. Either way, we could all be at fault on the web.

Sources cited:

Dodge, Amanda. (2013). More than one-third of Fortune 500 companies have blogs. CopyPressed.http://www.copypress.com/blog/more-than-one-third-of-fortune-500-companies-have-blogs/

Guerin, Lisa. (n.d.). Fired for blogging: Learn whether employees can be fired for what they write in a blog, MySpace, or Facebook page. NOLO: Law for All. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fired-blogging-29762.html

Pontefract, Dan. (2014). Social Media in the Workplace is Going Backwards. Huff Post Business. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-pontefract/social-media-in-the-workp_1_b_5270543.html

3 thoughts on “Blog Post #1: Right or Wrong for Social Media use in the Corporate World”

  1. I definitely agree that the answer to this is in a grey area. What people do not seem to realize is that once you have put something online, even if you delete if, people have already seen it, and you cannot make them unsee it. For someone to post negative comments about the workplace is very unprofessional and tends to reflect on them as a person- a negative attitude can pull down the atmosphere and productivity of any company. When people are upset, they don’t often think clearly and are rash in posting their current feelings, without thinking of the consequences.
    However, while I believe that employers should keep an eye on what employees say regarding the workplace; that is no reason to fire them. Instead, I think employers should sit down and have a long talk about how the employee felt and why they said what they did.
    Perhaps some sort of workshop should be held by different companies, regarding their policies about social media, and online blogging in regards to mentioning work-related issues. Oftentimes, the problem is that employees are unaware of the policies and consequences, or employers don’t even bother to have a social media statement in the hiring contract for employees. Both sides need to be held accountable for responsibility of online posts, whether positive or negative, and I personally believe that clarity and communication is the key to ensuring such incidents do not occur.

    1. I agree with you about it being unnecessary (and would go as far as to say that it is actually unjust) for companies to fire employees for venting about their negative experiences. I feel that punishing employees for giving honest opinions of the companies they work for is counter-intuitive; if a manager (or a fellow employee) is being abusive or if the policies make it unrealistically difficult for a person to work for their company, then it should be made known.

      However, I disagree with you on the subject of tact. Is it unprofessional for an employee to speak of their employer (not a specific manager or supervisor; I’m referring to the company) in a derogatory manner? Maybe, but I don’t think that says much about their character. Perhaps it reveals that they aren’t as stoic as people having the same issues with the, but I think I would prefer for employees in an unfavorable work environment to voice their concerns and describe their experiences than suffer quietly. Also, I don’t think it’s necessarily true that complaining about a company results in lower morale among employees or reduced productivity. If anything, I feel that it makes it easier for other employees (who’ve had negative experiences) to speak up about how they feel about the company. Solidarity is important.

      Now, I don’t think that a public forum is the first place a person should go when they have a problem, but if an employee’s problem cannot be resolved within their department (or with the help of a manager or supervisor), I think it’s more than reasonable for them to use an online forum to express themselves. I have a few cases in mind that I think are exceptions to the rule, but for the sake of keeping my comment from being excessively long, I will just say that I think issues with fellow employees definitely should not be spoken about publicly.

      Speaking more to the blog post, itself, I strongly believe that it is important for companies to have a social media presence and to give a voice to consumers, as well as employees. However, I am skeptical about them monitoring employees’ personal posts. Once again, if an employee is struggling with something that they can’t control (involving a manager or business practices), then I think it’s perfectly fine for them to express how they feel. On a relevant note, I think that if a business notices this and nothing libelous is being published, then there is no good reason to fire them. In conclusion, I think it might be important for employers to watch what their employees are saying about the company, but only for the sake of ensuring that they are having a positive experience and that there aren’t any hindrances.

  2. I definitely agree that the answer to this is in a grey area. What people do not seem to realize is that once you have put something online, even if you delete if, people have already seen it, and you cannot make them unsee it. For someone to post negative comments about the workplace is very unprofessional and tends to reflect on them as a person- a negative attitude can pull down the atmosphere and productivity of any company. When people are upset, they don’t often think clearly and are rash in posting their current feelings, without thinking of the consequences.
    However, while I believe that employers should keep an eye on what employees say regarding the workplace; that is no reason to fire them. Instead, I think employers should sit down and have a long talk about how the employee felt and why they said what they did.
    Perhaps some sort of workshop should be held by different companies, regarding their policies about social media, and online blogging in regards to mentioning work-related issues. Oftentimes, the problem is that employees are unaware of the policies and consequences, or employers don’t even bother to have a social media statement in the hiring contract for employees. Both sides need to be held accountable for responsibility of online posts, whether positive or negative, and I personally believe that clarity and communication is the key to ensuring such incidents do not occur.

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