The ongoing legal action taken by Lord McAlpine following damaging allegations made about him on Twitter highlights the potential danger which individuals, companies and even seasoned journalists face when posting or even retweeting someone else’s words on social media sites.
In the last few weeks, it was announced that Guardian journalist George Monbiot had reached an agreement with Lord McAlpine to carry out work for charity to the value of £25,000. Lord McAlpine is also pursuing Sally Bercow, wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, over her Twitter comments.
As this case and a growing number of others shows, the ongoing upsurge in social media use can present a potential legal minefield both for individuals and organisations.
The fact that these open forums are almost impossible to regulate means improper or even misguided use by employees could result in damaging consequences. Yet, by advising employees, promoting best practice and evidencing the fact that employees have seen and agreed to the terms of a social media policy, organisations could significantly reduce the likelihood that they will end up in the midst of a publicity crisis – or even facing court proceedings.
By helping businesses adapt to these and other important cultural changes, an effective compliance and policy management system can go a long way to protect the interests of both employers and employees. As well as saving time for HR teams and line managers, the functionality contained in the technology takes the process one stage further, enabling businesses to monitor, measure and manage the effectiveness of workplace policies and procedures.
Carrying out this process will bring greater clarity and awareness amongst individuals about their contractual obligations, while in the event of potential litigation, businesses are better protected because they can evidence the fact that individual employees have previously agreed to the terms of a best-practice policy.