As noted in Part 3 of this series, the vast majority of social media websites allow users to identify who they work for as well as other information about their employment. If employees complete this information, they are to some degree acting as representatives of the organization and all of their posts may reflect on the organization. An employer then needs to decide whether or not to discourage employees from posting their affiliations with the organization on social media profiles. For instance, the Mayo Clinic’s social media policy states that Mayo employees should write all blog and other posts in the first person and make it clear that the particular employee is speaking for him or herself and not on behalf of Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic policy also states “[i]f you communicate in the public internet about Mayo Clinic or Mayo Clinic-related matters, disclose your connection with Mayo Clinic and your role at Mayo.” Intel’s social media policy does not dictate whether an employee should identify him or herself as an Intel employee, but the policy does make clear that the employee should stick to the employee’s area of expertise and provide unique and relevant information about Intel if the post is related to the organization.
If the employer does not discourage employees from identifying themselves as such, then the employer must determine when employees’ personal posts subject them to the organization’s social media policies.
Should employers discourage, encourage, or remain neutral on this issue?
Cross post from my blog at http://sleepisoptional.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/social-media-policy-identifying-employer-affiliations/