When SNS (social media services) such as Facebook, weblog, Linkedin has become the major approach for most organizations to engage their employees and promote the business, various legal risks generated from their own staffs and/or the third parties inevitably threaten a company’s safety. Because of the blurred boundaries between personal life and work life when people use social media tools, it is necessary to establish the SMP (social media policy) to bind on an organization’s staffs. The legal risks generally can be divided into two types: internal and external. As shown in the graphic1.1 below which has discussed in the lecture, we can initiatively acquire the most common legal risks organizations will meet.
Graphic 1.1 The model of legal risks
In order to develop an insight into these risks, the following part of this post will choose IBM as an example.
As I mentioned in my previous post: the pros and cons of enterprise2.0, IBM had a keen awareness of using social media — blog to engage its employees. It developed IBM tools inside the company such as internal wiki and internal blogging platform. And in the spring of 2005, IBM created a set of guidelines for all IBMers who wanted to blog to protect both IBM bloggers and IBM. This guideline served as a kind of SMP can be analyzed based on the risks models graphic1.1.
Summarizing the IBM social computing policy referenced from IBM official website aligning with legal risks:
|The legal risks||Relevant policy|
|privacy risks, reputation risks, Defamation,||IBMers are responsible for the content they publish on-lineRead the BCGs (IBM business conduct guidelines) to clear the proprietary information|
|Confidential information, reputation risks,||Identify yourself – name and role relevant to IBM.Use disclaimer when your post relevant to IBM in your personal capacity.|
|Confidential information||Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information and never discuss IBM business performance or other sensitive matters publicly.|
|Privacy risks,||Don’t cite without permission|
|Discrimination||Respect your audience without ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity etc. show proper consideration for others’ privacy or topics – such as politics and religion|
|Copyright and trademark breach||Don’t use IBM logos or trademarks unless approved to do so|
|Misstatement and misleading||Be first to correct your own mistakes|
|Statutory risks||Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws|
Table1.1 legal risks and IBM policies
According to the table1.1, it is obviously that the IBM’s social media policy has basically covered the common legal risks. ‘IBM blog’ is the main social media strategy providing open communication and interaction within the organization. However, it may cause the blurred boundaries between personal life and work life. It is not rare that employees express their own opinion about IBM’s future business plan, strategies or prospects. That’s a fatal harm to any organization. From this view, contents control is the central that its policies concern about.
The risks can be varying according to the occupation and culture of an organization. IBM can be a typical template for most companies which adopt blogging as the main social media strategy, and its policy worth learning.