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We've all heard the stories on the news about people who've shared just a little too much information on Facebook and gotten fired from their jobs. Social media is a prickly and difficult situation for any employer. That's why Janet Decker, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor, has developed a list of guidelines for managing employees' Facebook use.
The list was intended for school administrators to help them create policies and educate school employees about social media usage. But it's just as useful for any business owner or manager looking to control employees' Facebook usage while acknowledging that the world has changed and social media is likely here to stay.
Decker said that a large number of educators have been fired for Internet activity. She says that a few teachers have even been dismissed for such behavior as posting a picture of themselves holding a glass of wine.
Part of the problem, she said, is that social media usage rules are often not clear or effective.
Here are Decker's recommendations for managing social media usage in schools, but they are a good starting point for any business. Her suggestions are adapted slightly here to make them appropriate for any company.
1. Educate! It's not enough to have written policies; you should also offer professional development (or office meetings) about these issues. By doing so, staff is notified about the expectations and they have a chance to digest and ask questions about the content of the policies.
2. Be empathetic in policies and actions. While you may wish for your company's computers to be used only for work purposes, this is unrealistic.
3. Involve staff in policy creation. This process will help employees comprehend the policies and will also likely foster staff buy-in.
4. Be clear and specific. Policies should include rationales, legal support and commentary with examples.
5. Ensure your policies conform to state and federal law.
6. Include consequences for violations in policies and implement the consequences.
7. Provide an avenue for appeal and attend to employees' due process rights.
8. Implement policies in an effective and nondiscriminatory manner.
9. Amend policies as the law evolves. Much of the law related to technology is in flux. What is legal today may not be tomorrow.