CINCINNATI - The latest Facebook flare up is about social media. Specifically, people are talking about the Lousiana TV meteorologist who lost her job after engaging in Facebook conversations her employer found objectionable.
As WCPO.com reported Wednesday , KTBS-TV (Shreveport) said Rhonda Lee violated the station's social media policies by responding to a viewer's comment. Lee said she wasn't aware of the policy at the time. She simply thought she needed to respond to the remark that was addressed to her in particular.
The Tri-State speaks
When we posted this story on the 9 On Your Side Facebook page , it got the Tri-State talking. Many people regretted that Lee lost her job, but said she should have known and followed the rules. Others had no sympathy, while some people came to her defense.
The website SocialMediaGovernence.com provides a database of employer social media policies in the U.S. and around the world. (WCPO and parent company Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps have social media policies).
Granted, most employees are not public figures. But, that doesn't mean you're immune to losing your job or tarnishing your reputation within your chosen industry or field.
The web is full of cautionary tales about social media slip ups: from the waitress who complained about her customers to the Pittsburgh Pirate mascot who dissed team management.
WCPO.com decided to ask local social media strategist Krista Neher of the Cincinnati firm Boot Camp Digital to provide some context and advice.
Q: What are employers most worried about when it comes to their employees' social media activities?
A: The primary concerns that we hear from businesses are surrounding productivity and posts that might make their organization look bad. With respect to productivity a number of organizations have blocked social media as a solution to concern over wasted time at work.
The risk of employees posting negative things is very real, and many organizations have fired employees based on social media posts. There are instances of employees being fired for complaining about coworkers or supervisors, posting rude things about customers, venting about suppliers, breaching confidentiality, being rude, complaining about company policies and generally making their workplace look bad.
Q: To what degree do employees' free speech rights enter into the matter?
A: I think that the real question isn't so much about free speech, but about how you want to present yourself. If a friend of mine is constantly complaining about work or posting rude comments about their customers online, I would probably think twice about recommending them for a job at my workplace. Context is usually lost online, and a rant that might be entertaining in person seems unprofessional online. It seems that the laws are still evolving in this area as to exactly what is and isn't protected.
Regardless of if you have the right to complain and post negative things about your workplace, it is unprofessional and could cost you in the long run.
Q: How well are most companies in our area doing when it comes to setting and clearly articulating social media policies?
A: The reality is that very few companies have social media policies in place, and even those that do usually lack actually training on the policy. Even companies who have fired people due to their social media posts rarely have training that highlights the potential risks and watch-outs for social media posts. Most organizations still have a long way to go.
Q: Is any business too small to consider setting policies or even guidelines for its employees?
A: Every business should have guidelines or at least some education about the risks and considerations when posting in social media. Even if you have no employees, business professionals should be thinking about how their posts on social networks represent them, their employer and their customers. It is important to consider how you may be perceived based on posts that may seem innocent.
Q: In this day and age, what advice do you have for workers when it comes to their activities in the social media space?
A: Assume that everything you post is public, and think about the implications of what you post. Sharing that you had a long day at work isn't likely to get you in trouble, but complaining about co-workers or your work environment can create issues.
Social media has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives, so it is important to consider the implications of anything that you share online.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
A Cincinnati free speech case is entering a new chapter as a man once tried for an incident at Party in the Park is now suing the city.