Last time I introduced my topic: how privacy policies get blurred by social media platforms. This new blog is about the “shoulds” and the “should nots” regarding firms’ privacy policies. Too often employees and employers get into disagreements about what constitutes appropriate social media usage, and it is important that firms provide thorough, reasonable, and transparent privacy policies. At the same time, an employee would not want to work for a company that was overboard in their “control” of your job status.
Privacy policies do not have First Amendment “free speech” concerns , but they do need to comply with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Privacy policies need to clarifying infringements on company confidential information and intellectual property rights. For example, for my upcoming internship this summer with the Today Show, I could Facebook, “Had the best day at work! Can’t wait to watch tomorrows segment” but I could NOT say “actor’s name talks all about x,y,z in tomorrow’s segment” – that would be divulging private NBC property.
Privacy policies also should clarifying what constitutes slanderous social media statements, and how these comments, if not supported by evidence, carry potential to hurt the business.
Lastly, the policies need to articulate that employees are require to state that comments reflect their own personal opinion and do not reflect the company.
Privacy Policies should not fire, nor get mad with employers for their pushing “Like” on Facebook. Regardless if what has been “Liked” was a company or idea that opposes the values of the firm, Facebook “Likes” are protected by the First Amendment – a.k.a. employees can go crazy on the “Likes” without fear of their job being in jeopardy.
Privacy Policies cannot say it is the employer’s rights to access their employees Facebook pages – Facebook’s Chief Privacy Offer laws actually prohibit this to protect the individual. The following is not acceptable: Requesting login and password information, “shoulder surfing,” requesting the employer print a co-worker’s social media posts, and retaliating if an employee/applicant refuses to comply with their social media related requests. But pay attention to the word I just used… “requests.” Technically it is fine for employers to say, “Can you show me your Facebook page?” Their question does not use the word “force” or “require” – although it is implied. In such a competitive job market, who would risk not getting a job by saying “no” to this question. So while a simple “no” is not legal grounds for not hiring a particular person, it definitely plays a role.