Your company uses social media. So are your employees. Sometimes this can go well. Your company gets free marketing, and your employees interact with your company and others. Other times it can go very badly. Social media creates serious liability issues, and companies should make sure they limit their exposures.
Going Viral Isn & # 39; t Always Good
The Pew Research Center says 72% of American adults are on at least one social media platform, and the numbers are even higher among younger generations.
For many people, social media, as the name implies, is social. They use it to chat with their friends and family, or to discuss common interests with people they only know online. Many people do not have many followers, and this can create the illusion of privacy – but posts on social media are often not private.
Justine Sacco learned this the hard way. According to the New York Times, she had only 170 followers in 2013, when she tweeted a politically incorrect joke before boarding a plane to Africa. When she stepped off the plane, her tweet had gone viral and people were not amused. In the midst of the backlash that followed, she quit her job as head of corporate communications.
This is social media. Companies can plan their social services in advance, but the average person often posts quickly, spontaneously. They may not think much about what they post online. It is not uncommon to find spelling mistakes in posts. Sometimes the mistakes are much bigger and arouse outrage on social media. When this happens, the poster's employer may get stuck in the situation.
How your employee's post can harm your business
It often plays out in the same basic way. Someone is doing something to provoke outrage on social media, and the incident goes viral. At this point, news reporters can start picking up the story. There is a good chance that the person's employer will be identified, then people can start contacting the company to demand that the individual be fired.
This is what happened in the case of Ellis v. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. to Saiber LLC, the employee made a Facebook post advocating violence against protesters. Some people complained to the bank and the bank decided to dismiss the employee for violating the company's social media policy. The court ruled in favor of the bank.
What employees post, even if their personal time, may reflect poorly on the company. In some cases, the service may involve the company more directly.
- An employee may post insulting comments about customers or clients. According to MedPage Today, a nurse was fired after posting TikTok videos joking about abuse of residents.
- An employee may post sensitive patient information online, which may lead to HIPAA violations. ProPublica has a list of 47 incidents involving nursing home and nursing home workers who shared inappropriate videos or photos of patients online.
- An employee can complain to the employer online. Employers are unlikely to be satisfied, but this is not necessarily a flammable crime. The National Law Review states that the National Labor Relations Act and various state laws protect an employee's right to share complaints online.
How companies can protect themselves
Social media is here to stay, so companies must take action to protect themselves.
- Manage your company's social media accounts carefully. Protect accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication, and limit who has the ability to post. Everyone who can post should be well versed in all relevant laws, including copyright, defamation and privacy laws.
- Monitor your company's reputation online. Keep an eye out for what employees and customers say about your brand.
- Creating Social Media. With a strong written policy for the use of social media, employees will know what is expected, and it will also help you navigate any problems that arise. Check the policy to make sure they comply with employee rights and corporate responsibility laws and look for new legislation and court decisions that may affect your insurance.
- Make sure you have the right insurance coverage. The coverage can come from liability insurance, general liability insurance with advertising damage insurance and cyber liability insurance. However, do not assume that you have coverage. Read your insurance policies for restrictions and exceptions, talk to your BNC insurance agent and determine if additional coverage is needed.