Risk Management Considerations
By Andrew Bland November 2010
The information in this presentation is general in nature and does not constitute
formal legal advice.
What’s Different About Social Media?
It’s public – very, very public
It’s amplified (one to many, many to many,
It’s a continuous live conversation driven
by the consumer.
It’s permanent – e.g. Twitter is now
archived in the U.S. Library of Congress
It lacks much of the contextual information
of traditional media.
Employee participation – implement a
social media policy.
One study: each negative social media
comment costs 30 customers
Another study: 34 percent of adults are
using social media as an outlet to rant
about brands and services (bad PR)
Loss of and/or disclosure of confidential
Brand, reputation and IP protection
“Ownership” of social media accounts
Contact / solicitation of customers post
employment via social media
Who is going to manage social media in the organisation – consider
a collaborative approach such as Deloittes
The nature of conduct that the employer seeks to protect itself
Who should such a policy apply to for example, the entire business
or levels within the business, suppliers, business partners
The nature of control over social media use for example, a total ban,
limited use, total accessibility?
Authority limits or restrictions for use for example, is permission
required, content pre-approval, who is responsible for such
What can or cannot be discussed on social media forums ?
What logos, icons, ideas can or cannot be published on social
What disclaimers or other information must be included when
participating in a social media forum
The nature of behaviour that is acceptable or unacceptable
When it is and isn’t acceptable to use or participate in a social
Reporting any breach
Consequences of breach
Integration into existing policies.
Provide guidelines for using social media –
you can define what you consider
Provide recourse as an employer if
something does go wrong
If you don’t have a policy in place you may
find it hard to discipline staff for what you
consider to be inappropriate use of social
How do you know what is being said about
you, your business, your competitors or your
Under the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005
(NSW)you must notify employees in the
appropriate form if you plan to monitor them.
You cannot monitor employees when they are
‘not at work’.
You cannot block internet access to particular
websites unless you are acting in accordance
with a policy already in place.
Think about language and etiquette – nothing
beats good manners
Understand that every post is public; this is
not a relationship between you and your
Consider information you are posting; is it
confidential or private in any way?
Think about consequences in terms of being
“quoted out of context”.
Have systems in place for dealing with
Anything posted on social media should be
considered public – ie front page of the
Know your privacy settings, especially on
Be careful of “linking” private social media
accounts to company accounts
Share freely that which is public (and
Think about location based social media
networking ie do you want your competition to
know when you’re visiting clients?
Fake Stephen Conroy, Telstra Employee,
• Employee had fake Stephen Conroy twitter
account, made satirical comments.
• Also had a blog in which comments were made
• Telstra started disciplinary proceedings, employee
posted on twitter: “throw me under the f---king bus
just to make Telstra look social-media savvy”
• Bad PR for Telstra in the way it was handled.
April 2009, Article in SMH.
• A 27-year-old Australian woman, who did not want to
be named, said about six months ago her employer - a
large online technology company - started disciplinary
action against her over a "generic" comment she wrote
on the Facebook wall of a friend.
• She wrote something along the lines of "he's such an
anally retentive asshole", without naming any
individuals or the company. A manager at the company
thought the comments were referring to him and
refused to back down on giving her an official warning,
so she quit her job.
• "managed out" of the company.
Coles Supermarket, Edwardston (SA),
• Employee was sacked after postings on Facebook
about a fellow employee.
• Posted on a friends ‘wall’, so visible to visitors to
that page. Management alerted the same day.
• Management found up to six months worth of
older Facebook posts that amounted to
‘disparaging and untruthful remarks about another
• Breach of company policy.
Melbourne Haridresser, FWA Ruling
• Terminated for posting on her Facebook Page
"Xmas bonus alongside a job warning, followed by
no holiday pay!!! Whoooooo! The Hairdressing
Industry rocks man!!! AWSOME!!!"
• Unfair dismissal case brought by the hairdresser.
• Hairdresser won, as the comments were not
deemed to have adversely affected the business.
• May have been different with a social media policy
Deloittes Australia – participation,
communication, transformation – via a
national social media council
Coca-Cola – great social media
participation managed via a policy