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Create Social Media Policy to Avoid Lawsuits

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 25, 2011 6:43 AM

Unfortunately, the legal world is somewhat devoid of any concrete rules about the intersection of social media and the law. It's a relatively new field and most defendants simply don't want to risk trial.

This is a problem for the business world, as the prevalence of social media can give rise to employer liability when an employee breaks the law or causes an uncomfortable working environment.

It's therefore a good idea to create a social media policy--guidelines that spell out what employees can and can't do--at work and at home and with company technology.

When creating a social media policy, you can choose to address specific mediums, or simply create overall rules. Either way, think about the way employees use the internet--there are social networks, email, blogs, video services, message boards, and all related commenting.

Also be sure to hit the big topics--you can always update your social media policy if new issues come up.

According to Business Insider, these include the following:

  • Improper use of intellectual property on the company's social media platforms, internet connection and computers.
  • Use of both the company's and customers' private data.
  • Disclosure of affiliation with company when acting on behalf of the business or speaking about it in a personal capacity.
  • Proper advertising, including reminding third parties that they must make proper FTC disclosures when reviewing products in exchange for money or goods.

Also think about expanding your harassment policy to social media--even off-the-clock tweeting can lead to a hostile work environment for which you are responsible.

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