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Social Media and Employees: The Electronic Danger Zone

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Social media cuts a deep, wide swath across our popular and workplace cultures. Twitter, LinkedIn, countless blogs and the ubiquitous Facebook make up just the tiniest tip of the social media iceberg. Maybe you should ask yourself if your company is well positioned to prevent a disaster like the Titanic.

Currently social media is whatever its users want it to be – for better or for worse. Employees can post communications through their own personal social media channels that reflect badly on their workplaces, or they can even abuse the workplaces’ own official social media platforms. Either way, you’re left holding the bag, and in some cases the bag may contain a lawsuit. How does this happen?

Reputation damage. Disgruntled employees may vent their frustrations through a personal blog, Facebook page or online discussion boards to spread venomous comments about their bosses, co-workers or the company as a whole. Left unchecked, this negative commentary spreads from online community to online community, creating a black cloud of bad PR.

Improper activities.  An employee might easily blurt out some trade secret or other bit of confidential information that could affect the company’s fortunes – or those of other companies. And if the employee writes ringing “personal” endorsements for a company without disclosing his relationship to the company, guess who gets in trouble with the FTC.

Lawsuits. Accusations of defamation and discrimination can spring from a variety of social media issues. What if a former employee sues you because your manager’s false criticisms make him or her un-hirable? Or how about the former employee that sues you for discrimination based on an HR staffer’s inappropriate comments on Twitter?

But don’t give up on social media just yet. Tune in next time to find out how to keep things under control, courtesy of Acadia HR!

Dan Hettrich is the director of sales at Acadia HR located in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at or 512-745-2985.


Written by Dan Hettrich

April 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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