Relatively new social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter have created some different and confusing legal issues. Questions continually are asked in the courtroom, what is protected? What is not? How do we know? Not knowing the law doesn’t stop someone from prosecuting you. Working with social media can be fun and straightforward, just be careful to look out for these legal issues.
You have to think of your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. as a public place. Even if you have the strictest privacy settings, nothing you say on your feed is really private. If you post that you hate your boss on your Facebook wall, you can still get fired even if you aren’t friends. Whatever you say can also be used as evidence in court if need be. Be careful what you say online.
Don’t Ask Employees for Login Info
Employers had started asking employees and potential employees for their social media login information. This practice has been deemed illegal in some states and frowned upon overall. Don’t do it. Monitoring someone’s social media profile as a way to gain background information on a potential hire is more and more accepted, but you can’t log on to an employee’s Facebook profile and look through their messages. Don’t ask employees for their personal login information.
Attribute Your Sources
There is a lot of copyright infringement going around the internet. It is kind of hard to avoid, but not impossible. If you use information originally written by someone else, make sure to attribute your information to their source. Otherwise, you are at risk for a copyright lawsuit.
Ask for Photo Consent
When you hire a new employee, you need to add a new form to their pile of paperwork. This one should be a consent to appear on the company’s social media and public profiles. You need this so if you have a company party or something else where you want to take pictures, you can post them comfortably with everyone’s permission. It helps clear up any legal issues with using your employee’s pictures on your social media profile.
If you are holding an event with guests that are not employees, post clearly at the entrance or somewhere convenient that appearing at the event implies consent to having their picture posted on the company’s social media pages. This sign should also include clear direction of what to do if the person doesn’t want their picture posted.
If you are running a blog or other site that reviews products, you need to clearly display endorsements. This is a new law to combat false advertising. For example, if you are a home and family website and Swiffer pays you to review their new product, you need to clearly state that Swiffer is a sponsor and the article is endorsed. Otherwise, you could be at risk for a lawsuit.
Working with social media all comes down to using common sense. Don’t say anything on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram that you wouldn’t say in public. Assume if you say something about someone, they will find out, no matter how heightened your security is. Don’t talk about supervisors, coworker, or anyone else. If you are running your company’s social media page, make sure to gain consent, in writing or implied, before posting pictures of individuals online. Be kind and self aware and everything else should work itself out.