Privacy Ethics: Should You Monitor Your Employee’s Social Media Accounts?

Contract Management Software Can Assist Government Agencies Portal Software Provider | Privacy Ethics: Should You Monitor Your Employee’s Social Media Accounts? | Social media has opened up new doors for employers and employees alike. It can be a great way for employees to engage with one another, for people to find out more about each other and to simply connect. With social media, however, it has brought up a lot of questions about how it will affect a person’s professional life.

The question that often comes up is how much of a right do businesses and employers have to look at the social media of their workers? In reality, there is nothing illegal about checking a person’s social media accounts. If you have an employee with public pages, you can look at them. Most employees assume that the employer checks their social media accounts in advance.

While most might expect that they will have their Facebook accounts checked when hired, they may not realize that there is a chance they could have their entire social media life monitored. Here are some questions to ask when it comes to the debate on whether or not you should monitor your employee’s time on the internet. At the end of the day, it will be your company’s choice.

What Is the Argument for Monitoring?

Your employees represent your business and your brand. Some would argue that it is not only your right to monitor social media, but it is your responsibility. If you do not monitor what your employees are saying online, it could be devastating for your company. For instance, say that you have a client or customer who disagrees with one of your workers. Sometimes customers can be demanding and may even treat employees unfairly. Then, your disgruntled employee takes to Facebook and talks about the customer, makes complaints and stirs up even more trouble for your business. This can be seen as very unprofessional and can reflect poorly on your company.

Another example would be that two employees argue work. Perhaps it was a professional disagreement and while both remained professional while in the office, one of them decided to post on social media about said coworker later. He or she could be criticizing the other person harshly or even harassing them when they are off the clock. Again, this not only looks bad on your reputation, but it can harm coworker relationships. If you had access to social media accounts, you could see the posts and reprimand your employee for damaging the brand. Sometimes, you can face lawsuits due to something that your employee said on social media.

What Is the Argument Against Monitoring?

When it comes to social media, the majority of employees are not doing anything work-related. If you are on social media yourself, then you probably know how personal it can be. You may spend your time posting pictures of your family or interesting stories that you enjoy. You are not necessarily going to be talking about work all of the time. Most of your employees are the same. They will most likely be on the internet discussing their private lives that have nothing to do with their job. In this case, it is not usually the employer’s business as to what the employee is doing with his or her private life. Unless an employee is taking part in illegal behavior, some would argue that it is not your business.

Will Social Media Monitoring Get Out of Control?

There is one big concern that a lot of companies should have when management is allowed to monitor social media. Whether you work in finance, consumer banking, entertainment or law, there is one concern that everyone should take note of. This concern is that management may turn the monitoring into a fishing expedition. While it might be okay to look at a person’s social media account and call them to the office if they are behaving inappropriately while representing your company, you do not want to spend your time looking for something that they did wrong. Sometimes, if you are looking for something wrong, you will be more likely to find it or to take a post negatively.

Should You Be Transparent?

If your company decides that it is a healthy business practice to monitor your employee’s social media habits, the question of whether or not you should tell your employees about it is a new question that you have to ask yourself. If you want your employees to trust you, then you may want to be as upfront as possible about your social media policies. Despite social media being public on the internet, people may still see you searching through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as an invasion of privacy. They may feel as though you do not trust them to make good decisions with their personal life.

Now, some companies decide to monitor social media while their employees are at work. For instance, if you allow workers to use Facebook or even encourage social media use while at work, you need to have specific policies on what is or is not allowed. If you do not want your employees to discuss wages or trade secrets, then you need to make this clear. Not only do you want to make the rules clear, but you want to give a reason for those rules.

Employees do not want to feel like you control them. They want to feel trusted and independent. Let them know that what they do on social media could potentially damage your company. This is the best way to make it clear that your policies are not in place because you want to control what they do online.

For a lot of businesses, learning how to navigate social media is very new. You can learn a lot about your employees through what you see on social media. Some of this can be positive for both parties. For instance, you can learn who your employees are and what they value. However, it can be easy for companies to abuse this power and to monitor to an extent that can make their workers uncomfortable. You must find a balance.

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