One of the primary questions and search mechanisms on Facebook is place of employment. That’s right, if you were to log onto your Facebook account right now, or create one if you must, and type in your company name I’ll bet you can pull up a list of current and former employees.
Sometimes they’ll have pages dedicated to employees of companies where they post pictures and discuss things that happened in the workplace, like who got out of hand at the staff party. Or there could be pages of former employees who criticize management or the way a certain boss treated them. Sometimes these pages are not even intended to be malicious, but rather telling a funny story that may put a company in an unfavourable light.
The really scary thing is these are often what they call “public” pages meaning everyone can see them; your competition, your board of directors, your family, and so on.
The fact is regardless of whether or not your company has an online presence it is a pretty good bet your employees do.
For in-house lawyers, the age of social media must be fascinating and terrifying all at the same time. Many people still think this is a fad, but the number of people logging on and uploading simply does not
My first web page was filled with scanned photos, it would take me hours to scan, crop, and edit the pictures. Then it would take even more time to wait to upload the pages through a file transfer protocol. Today a person at your company’s Christmas party or golf tournament can take a photo using a hand-held device and post it on the Internet almost immediately. This is when risk management truly becomes art.
In this edition’s cover story “Tapping the social media keg” on page 16, it was interesting to see the legal team at Molson Coors Canada using the same risk mitigation tools often used by governments. Chief legal officer Kelly Brown speaks of the interaction between media monitoring, an online response team, and the legal department.
Molson seems to be on the forefront of dealing with social media. The company is using existing laws when necessary to deal with such incidents as people posing as Molson employees, but it also seems to understand that online, a heavy-handed approach is not always the best approach.
A proper social media policy will have to deal with these two issues: working with existing laws and understanding appropriate responses. Social media can be a powerful tool, but it will be the in-house lawyers who need to understand it best, in order to make the most use of it.