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Facebook Wants Your Employees To Tell Their Friends Where They Work

We’ve talked before about the importance of a company’s social media or technology personnel policies. In any blog post about employer policies, I’m quick to point out that there’s no one-size-fits-all policy. But here’s one simple issue for employers to consider. 

Facebook, as well as other social networking websites, offers its users pretty straightforward “fill in the blank” queries to share basic information about themselves. One of those queries is “Employer,” and asks, “Where have you worked?” Users often fill out a blank because it’s there; they don’t necessarily consider the implications of every piece of information they share. Employers should consider whether this very simple feature of social networking sites is something they want to address in their technology policies or social media guidelines.  FB screen shot 
Some employers worry that such a declaration may give the mistaken impression that an employee is speaking on behalf of her employer - usually based on the nature of the communications rather than the employer mention alone. There are a number of ways to think about the potential implications, but one suggestion may be to require employees to include a disclaimer in their profile that the communications are the individual’s personal viewpoints and do not reflect the views of his or her employer. If a company chooses this route, it may also be wise to point out to employees a disclaimer doesn’t insulate them from consequences for poor decision-making, and violating company policy may still result in discipline or termination. 

Some employers feel compelled to remind their workforce that once an employee mentions his workplace online, it becomes even more important for the employee to be mindful of the content he or she is publishing. Employers that want to prohibit employees from identifying their place of work altogether should think about whether such a policy might run afoul of FTC regulations requiring disclosure of material relationships in connection with certain communications that could be considered endorsements. 

Employers should consult their attorneys for guidance when drafting or updating personnel policies.

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