Posted by nyssa on May 14, 2012 in ,

In recent months the life of the internet had been taunted with two American legislative proposals SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) causing massive discussions and debates worldwide. The two acts backed by the film and music distributors aimed to protect intellectual property – in layman’s terms; to stop pirated music, films and all property indirectly associated with the owner – by shutting down and essentially making the host site ‘invisible’ without prior warning. So what caused Congress to defer the bill? Social Media.

After online giants like Wikipedia, Firefox and Google began the ‘Black Out’ protest on January 18th and the situation was brought to the forefront of the public’s minds, the act was deferred. Having scoured the internet after the defeat, many articles are reporting that it was the power of social media that derailed the piracy acts; this is an indication of the power of not only the internet, but social media as a whole.

As at January 2012, over 800 million users were on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter and 135 million on LinkedIn with businesses rapidly creating company pages and interacting on social media sites on a regular basis. With such an influx, are both employer and employee taking the correct precautions in protecting their internet presence before an undesirable situation could occur?

A union delegate won an unfair dismissal case against Linfox in December 2011 for making inappropriate comments against two managers on Facebook. Despite the remarks being made on a ‘public’ forum, the employee’s profile had high-privacy settings and the Commissioner ruled the comments in bad taste but not derogatory therefore, was able to serve out the remainder of their contract and receive all entitlements. On the other end of the scale, the Australian Public Service Commission has released new guidelines which prevents public servants from making any comments directly or indirectly related to any government policy during and outside of work hours. And finally from a Recruitment perspective; UK-based BG Group has a policy implemented whereby employees registered on LinkedIn were unable to select the “career opportunities” box and when a graduate-recruiter made the mistake of uploading his resume and clicking on the link, he was ordered to remove his CV and forced to stand down for “inappropriate social media use”.

All three of the above examples are warnings of the dangers of the internet and when tied in with the power of social media (with Facebook preparing to file paperwork for an offering that could value the company up to $US100 billion), it is a great indication as to why companies should be looking at creating and implementing social media strategies; not only to protect themselves but to protect the security of their employees. Creating a policy that allows employees the right to freedom of expression and speech but also maintaining a professional presence for the company is fair and reasonable on both parties involved.

Bianca Jovicic – Office Administrator

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