Social media has permeated almost every aspect of our daily lives, and many companies use websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for marketing, advertising or recruitment purposes. However, social media can bring great challenges as well as business opportunities. Claire McDermott and Barry Connolly of Flynn O’Driscoll present a legal perspective on the internal and external challenges of social media to businesses.
With regard to social media, most employers should implement policies that protect their activities and avoid costly misunderstandings.
Employers should have a clear and simple policy that defines the behavior they expect their employees to do when interacting on social media sites when it is clear that the employee is working for them.
An employer must look at the risks of social media from different perspectives. All of this should be covered in your social media policy.
Protect your brand
The way you manage access to the company’s social media sites and the content they contain must be monitored and controlled to protect your business at all times. Content that is to be uploaded to social media on behalf of the company must be approved by the management prior to publication. Passwords for accessing social media also need to be tightly controlled. The employment contracts must return all credentials and all company characteristics after termination of employment. Once everything is published on social media, it’s instantly available and publicly available. It is therefore important that users approve their social media content before it is published – and while they are under your control.
Management of company contacts and customer lists
Your company must make contractual arrangements to keep your customer lists and business relationships in your possession. The social media policy should clarify the following:
The employee does not have the right to add business contacts to their personal social media accounts
The customer contacts are the property of the company and all social media accounts that the employee uses for the company’s business are owned by the company and must be returned upon termination of the employment relationship.
Businesses should generally consider appropriate contractual restrictions for workers after their release, eg. B. Non-competition and non-advertising provisions.
It is quite common for us to be consulted by an employer customer who asks for advice after the former sales representative has found out from a competitor that most of his customer contacts have been contacted via LinkedIn or other websites. Employee meetings in their new role.
Studies indicate that employees spend more than an hour a day on social media sites, whether with their own devices, such as smartphones or tablets, or by accessing social media sites on their computer. Job. The company should block or at least restrict access to social media sites on its own network. With respect to employees’ personal devices, the company’s social media policy should make it clear that employees are prohibited from accessing social media during business hours and / or using their mobile devices. ,
The possibility of disciplinary problems resulting from the inappropriate use of social media is considerable and very serious.
Employers need to ensure that their social media policy is linked to their disciplinary action to address violations of social media policies that could impact the company’s reputation. If you do not have social media policies, the Irish labor courts have ruled that employees can not be dismissed or punished for abusing social media.
External risk management
While it is important to ensure the correct use of social media within a company, there are several legal risks associated with social media outside the company. Unfortunately, in these cases you probably have less direct control over the use of this social media. However, a business can take several steps to protect itself against such risks:
Familiarize yourself with the unique terms of service and privacy policies of each social media platform
a) Are there any restrictions on what can be published on the company’s social network account?
(b) Who owns the intellectual property on the social media account?
(c) What conditions apply to the processing of personal data collected through a social media account?
For example, Facebook has separate policies for companies that use a Facebook page to promote or promote their brand. These include specific requirements for page names, page advertising, the organization of promotions via a page and the obligation to comply with data protection laws, in which all data is contained users are collected via Facebook.
Beware of user-generated content – Prepare for disassembly, if necessary
Regardless of whether you are on a social media platform or facilitating the input of users to your own website, you should be aware of the potential dangers of publishing online content. Potential risks may include brand reputation, infringement of intellectual property rights, or defamation of a third party. Online forums that are hosted or otherwise organized by the company must be moderated to ensure that the content does not violate another party’s rights. Under Irish and European law, companies hosting such content (intermediaries) may also be held liable unless they act swiftly to remove or block access to such content, if that is the case informing illegal nature.
Under these circumstances, it is imperative that the company has clear policies and procedures for removing this illegal content. In many cases, the third-party social media platform has its own policies. However, as far as possible, the company should also take steps to remove such content in order to avoid damage that may be associated with the company.
There may also be circumstances in which the Company wishes to remove certain content that violates its own rights. Under these circumstances, the first reaction is usually the removal of the appropriate social media platform. Unfortunately, these procedures are not always clear. However, before submitting a formal complaint, it is usually more efficient to first consult the resignation policy of a social media platform. This can reduce the cost of advising lawyers and (sometimes) be an effective way to combat online infringement of corporate rights.
Protecting the brand – today and for the future
There is no doubt that for many companies, social media can be the most effective marketing tool available to them. However, this presence must be protected. A company’s brand rights can be extremely valuable, and social media should be seen as another way to strengthen those rights.
Unfortunately, social media allow other users to easily leverage the value of a brand in the online world. It is therefore important that the company ensures that its brand is protected online. If an online presence can be valuable to a business, it must always register on a number of the most popular social media platforms to prevent others from taking over the name or creating a profile. may look confusingly similar to the user. Brand of the company. While some social media platforms have their own beliefs about “booking” such profiles, it is still essential to create some sort of online placeholder to prevent others from posing as the company’s brand.
SMEs need to be sure that they use social media within the company. This is definitely a powerful tool that gives a business more reach than ever before. But when it comes to social media, businesses need to seek protection both inside and outside the company.