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Social Media Policies: 5 Common Mistakes

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on January 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The National Labor Relations Board's recent decisions on the right and wrong way to craft a social media policy aren't just about how big companies should act.

Every lawyer who works with a business, including owning your own practice, should know what kinds of phrases are likely to invalidate a social media policy. That way when you create one, you won't fall into the same problems that others have dealt with.

Given the NLRB's recent rulings, there are certain things that are now on the "don't" list for making a social media policy. Here are the Top 5 things not to include:

  1. Broad prohibitions against contacting media or government officials. There are some instances in which it's inappropriate for employees to talk to others about the company, but in many cases it's permitted. If you're going to limit employees' speech, then make sure you specify what speech is not permitted, and when.

  2. Rules without clarification and interpretation. It's a good idea to be specific in your policy. An easy way to do that is to give examples and interpretations for rules so that employees better understand your requirements.

  3. A requirement to report on coworkers' social media activity. Making employees report on one another when it comes to social media is generally a problem. Avoid the problem by not making them tattle to the boss.

  4. Failure to mention Section 7 of the NLRA. Vagueness is not rewarded when it comes to a corporate social media policy, especially in terms of union rights. State outright that no regulations will interfere with employees' Section 7 rights to organize under the National Labor Relations Act.

  5. Stipulations that are too vague. The above precautions and many other risks can be summed up as a warning to avoid vagueness. Always take time to clarify any regulations in your social media policy to make sure that it will stand up in court.

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