A company may create a social media policy in order to regulate how its employees and company representatives use social media websites. Most individual workers have at least one social media account for personal use. The company itself may also maintain several social media accounts which are used for the promotion of the business.
A company’s social media policy usually has two basic aims:
- Allowing of the use of social media to promote the business’s products or services; and
- Restricting what information employees can post on their personal social media accounts.
Social media policies may also regulate personal social media usage during work hours. Laws governing social media usage are still very new and are subject to changes as the industry evolves. The policy can often take the form of a nondisclosure agreement stating what the parties can and cannot do with regards to social media.
What Are Some Typical Social Media Policy Disputes?
Social media policies can lead to very specific types of legal disputes. An employee can be held liable for violating an agreement not to make certain disclosures on their personal social media account(s). Alternatively, the employer can be held liable for restricting the employee’s rights with regards to their personal social media account(s) too much.
Some examples of social media policy disputes are:
- Unauthorized disclosure of private company information, such as a trade secret or other sensitive information
- False advertising, especially if the employee posts information without being fully informed or without performing proper research
- Deceptive trade practices or posts that slander competitor companies
- Unauthorized usage of copyrighted material or other intellectual property belonging to the company
- Violations of Federal Trade Commission regulations
- Disputes involving employee privacy rights, such as an employer demanding that a worker give them the passwords to personal social media accounts
Most social media policy legal disputes consist of a breach of contract or breach of a confidentiality agreement. Keep in mind that disputes and violations may vary as the different types of social media continue to evolve.
What Are Common Remedies for Social Media Policy Legal Disputes?
A policy dispute may result in a damages award to compensate the non-violating party for losses. For instance, if an employee posts a trade secret on their social media account, they may be required to compensate their employer for any losses caused by the disclosure. Another remedy is a re-working of the policy terms, especially if the policy restricts the employee’s rights too strictly.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Social Media Policy Legal Dispute?
Social media policies are a relatively new innovation, but they share many similarities with other types of employment and business agreements. You may need to hire an employment law attorney if you need any assistance with a social media policy. Your lawyer can help review any policy terms to ensure that your rights are fully protected. Also if you have any disputes or conflicts, your lawyer can represent you in court and can help negotiate a remedy as needed.