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Social Association #2: the work/play nexus

Social Media has transformed from a platform for personal social networking into an altogether much more complex vehicle such as being used as a modern-day Marketing tool and means for conducting business and obtaining a new client base. Your private and/or personal Social Media profile, or use thereof, is not considered as such especially where a nexus can be created to a person’s employment. The second instalment in our blog-series on Social Media law, written by Denis Warren-Tangney of Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

The birth of Social Media

We live in what we refer to today as the Age of Information (also referred to as the Digital Age, Computer Age or New Media Age). The shift from traditional methods of communication and industry practices arose from the development of modern technology.

The advent of this cutting-edge technology has changed the way in which people live their lives, communicate with one another, socialise, share information, conduct business and stay abreast of developments and or new trends through the development of new user-devices and platforms in which people can interact with one another both socially and professionally.

One of the main objectives of these advancements in technology being to simplify the way people perform these daily tasks by making it easier, quicker and more accessible for the user.

The creation of the Web and or Internet has given rise to something called “Social Networking” and or “Social Media” which allows users to connect and communicate with a much broader group of people. The use of social media platforms has grown in such a phenomenal way that it has since become one of the most prominent forms of communication where some people almost maintain a permanent online presence.

Social media has become on of the most popular forms of communication not only for our personal lives, but also for business and the work place its popularity largely based on the instant, frequently updated content which is easily accessible with smartphones and modern technology.

Social Media and the workplace

The fact is that Social Media has transformed from an entertaining past-time and means for social networking into something altogether much more complex such as being used as a modern-day marketing, promoting tool and means for conducting business and obtaining a new client base. It can assist businesses by enabling them to gain valuable insight about consumers, their buying behaviour and patterns, increase brand awareness and loyalty, maintain current customer base and increase repeat sales/services, increase traffic on their website and increase customer experience and gaining valuable feedback from customers and or clients.

The important thing to remember when using Social Media is that a person’s private and/or personal Social Media profile or use thereof is not considered as such especially where a nexus can be created to a person’s employment. There has recently been a rise in cases where an employee has been dismissed by their employer due to their social media activity.

An employer-employee relationship is already complex and the risk to business amongst other issues such as reputation risks, goodwill, defamation, vicarious liability and divulgence of confidential information are just some of the factors that need to be considered by an employer in what they deem is acceptable social media use. It is glaringly obvious that Social Media is here to stay and that it is impossible for an employer to prevent their employees from using it, this is why it is so important to have a Social Media policy in place, informing their employees of the dangers of including the company name in their social media profile and providing them with guidelines in acceptable practice.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.

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