What types of policies do employers need to have in place to protect themselves from videos made by employees and posted on YouTube?
Q – Do employers have any rights when it comes to limiting what employees say about them in personal videos available for public viewing?
A – Absolutely as most information seen or utilized within an organization is confidential and often not appropriate for public consumption – particularly on YouTube! Employers do need to have a clear social networking strategy and supporting guidelines outlining acceptable behavior, “dos & don’ts” on content creation & distribution points, and succinct explanation of that which constitutes infringement of non-compliance.
Q – What are some examples of content that employers should just ignore vs. examples of content they can/should respond to with discipline?
A – Social networking has a personal and a professional aspect to it – on the positive side you want employees to have a balanced life, socialize, and go on vacations, so presenting the positive aspects of their lives outside of work online is actually OK. On the negative side, crude, demeaning, belittling or otherwise inappropriate content referencing the organization by name, brand, or market comparison is simply a dilution of the employer’s reputation capital®. Specifity drives credibility, so this is really good area for some training of what to & not-to do!
Q – What are the main threats YouTube and other similar services pose to employers? Defamation, public dissemination of proprietary information or other issues?
A – Inaccurate, half-truths, one-sided versions of events, outright misrepresentation, “he-said, she-said” slander, absolute defamation of a manager, a peer, an executive or even board members without merits, sensitive leak of confidential or market-sensitive information (think of a merger or acquisition event, or change of leadership before publically announced). The positive aspect of social networking sites such as YouTube is that they reduce the barriers to individual publishing; unfortunately, that’s also the negative aspects when discretion isn’t exercised.
What are your thoughts?