Warning: Why You Need a Social Policy, Not Just an Understanding

A friend of mine recently posted to Facebook about his past cannabis usage to help with his post traumatic stress disorder during the mid 2000s. He voluntarily came to his employer prior to making the post and was assured it was no big deal. (All cannabis usage is illegal in his state as of today.)

Initially, this Facebook posting was met with only supportive comments. Eventually, however, the post lead to his termination.

His employer said he was too much of a liability because of his posting (set to public), and as an at-will employee, he was fired.

What This Means

My friend got caught up in the unique world of blur, where the boundaries between public and private life online are becoming more obscure. Social media is no longer just private and anomaly doesn’t exist. Even hacktivist group Anonymous can get caught in the real life.

Public Facebook posts are just as searchable as a webpage. According to Facebook, “People who aren’t logged into Facebook can still see things you’ve shared with the audience set to public.”

The internet keeps a record of EVERYTHING and has done so since 1996. While the human memory is fallible over time, the internet’s memory only gets bigger and better.

Your Next Steps

Your organization should:

  • Create or update social media policies for employees and volunteers.
  • Provide written documentation of policies for reference.
  • Educate employees and volunteers about public vs. friends only posts.

Think before you post:

  • Who is my audience?
  • Is my post appropriate for the general public?
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