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Social media and free speech

While it is not unheard of for public agencies to ban use of social media at the workplace, officials in Kent County (DE) took their policy one step further. The county already prohibits employees from using social media at work. But a recent proposal tried to stop workers from using social media to criticize colleagues or the county on their own time. The proposal encountered media opposition, including an editorial from DelawareOnline which read, in part: “You can’t criticize county government decisions on your own computer, at home, on your own time? This is a proposal that requires considerable rethinking. Kent County should stick with workplace rules.” According to Government Technology, a county spokesman said the proposal has now been tabled for review and revision. Link to full story in Government Technology.

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Denise Petet

Sounds to me like there’s a boss somewhere up the line that’s in denial and is overly sensitive. What I do on my time, in my home, on my computer is my business. Now if I put things out on a public page, then I do need to accept the consequences. However, as long as those employees aren’t sharing privileged info or making slanderous and libelous comments, you can’t stop them.

If I’m posting company secrets on my web page, then as the ‘owners’ of the secrets, my employer could step in. If I’m lying about a co-worker, that co-worker needs to complain to his/her boss and possibly lawyer and then it’s dealt with.

If I’m just going home and grousing and complaining and I’m telling the truth and not revealing any secrets…you can’t stop me. And, if I’m smart, I’m ‘friends locking’ it and not putting it out in public, rather behind the virtual closed door of a ‘friends room’.

I think the county would better use their time to step back, take a look, and see just what folks are complaining about and see if the online complaining is a sign of a larger problem.

Stephanie Slade

There’s definitely a free-speech issue at play here. On the other hand, if you’re publicly bashing your place of employment (whatever that may be, public or private), I don’t see why it couldn’t be grounds for termination. It’s just common sense. Don’t write you hate your boss on Facebook if you’re friends with coworkers (or, worse, the boss him/herself).