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Social media is technology that enables online users to interact and share information (including video, audio, photographs and text) publicly or privately with one another.

Social media includes a variety of internet-based communication tools, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and wikis (for example, Wikipedia).

The use of social media by individuals in and outside of the workplace is widespread and continues to proliferate.

The importance of a social media policy

Setting up a pragmatic and enforceable social media policy allows you to minimise the risks associated with your employees’ use of social media. Proactively defining acceptable and unacceptable uses in the context of the employment relationship can prevent damaging the company’s reputation and exposure of confidential information.

When drafting a social media policy that will be effective in a particular workplace, you should carefully consider the purpose and objectives of the policy. This involves balancing a number of factors, including the employer’s attitude toward social media use within the workplace, the nature of the employer’s business and the characteristics of the employees and workplace environment.

You should also consider whether your employees’ personal use of social media will be encouraged, discouraged or simply tolerated. Another consideration is whether it is legitimate for certain employees (such as those involved with marketing and human resources) to use social media as part of their jobs, and if so, how this should be regulated.

Our social media policy template

This policy, which is included as part of our Document Bank, is drafted to cover the use of social media by employees at any time, including outside of office hours, and regardless of whether they use the employer’s equipment to access their accounts. However, disciplinary action for a breach of this policy outside of office hours will only be justified if it results in some real kind of damage to the employer, such as dissemination of confidential information, liability for discrimination or reputational damage.

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