The business world is witnessing an ongoing and rapid proliferation in the use of social networks. Although this has many benefits, hardly a week goes by without yet another new story of a business finding its reputation in tatters from its own employee’s viral tweet or Facebook posting, or finding itself in hot water over its own attempts to monitor its employees’ use of social media or to use social media to vet employees and applicants. The sheer proliferation of social network use means that in terms of quantity, it is becoming as prevalent as email, and businesses are increasingly using social networks as a business tool, often as a distinct part of marketing and public relations strategies.
It is tempting to take the view that social networks do not create any new workplace issues and that their use can be dealt with through the application of general principles rather than specific policies and practices tailored towards social media. There is a growing consensus, however, that, for several reasons, businesses need to have distinct and specific social media policies and practices in order to harness the benefits and minimize the risks these new media present. Social network use is often at the boundary of the divide between the workplace and the personal, which in turn raises difficult questions as to whether and how rules regarding workplace confidentiality, loyalty, privacy and monitoring apply to these new forums and if so, how they are balanced against freedom of expression.
To help us and our clients understand what is happening on the ground in this fast developing area, we are delighted to present the results of our informal survey on emerging trends and practices on the use of social media in the workplace. We received over 120 responses from a broad range of businesses, many of whom have international presence. The survey results, which are set out below, are extremely informative and evidence the recent proliferation of social networks for business use, as well as the potential pitfalls associated with its use.
In addition to the survey results, and in collaboration with select law firms across the world, we have also included a brief summary of the developing law in relation to social networks and the workplace, which provides a valuable overview of the similarities and differences in different jurisdictions in relation to this increasingly important issue.
View the full report (16 pages) here.
Founded in 1875, Proskauer Rose, formerly known as Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn, LLP, is one of the United States’ largest law firms, providing a wide variety of legal services to clients throughout the United States and around the world. More at www.proskauer.com .