Of course there are at least two sides to the question of whether employers should monitor employees’ social media use. Employees have a right to the privacy of what they say, to whom, when, and through which channels (face-to-face, phone, or social media). Employers must also “be vigilant about ensuring that employees are not disclosing confidential or proprietary information through social media, or using it to harass other employees or engage in otherwise unlawful conduct,” says employment law attorney Christin Choi.

Bolstering the argument for monitoring, Nancy Flynn, director of the ePolicy Institute, says:

“It’s all too easy for disgruntled or tone deaf employees to go on to social media and criticize customers, harass subordinates and otherwise misbehave. Sometimes that can bring workplace tensions and complaints, sometimes it can damage a company’s reputation in the marketplace, and sometimes it can lead all the way to lawsuits or regulatory action.”

Consistent monitoring enables companies to catch problems early, get undesirable information off-line quickly, begin damage control, and promptly discipline employees.

In support of employee privacy, some argue that social media monitoring often becomes a malicious fishing expedition, a disguised means of undermining or even terminating employees inappropriately, such as to settle personal grudges. Employees also have been fired for posting nonwork-related content, such as religious or political views or bikini contests. Privacy advocates often concede that companies might be justified in snooping if they have a legitimate reason to do so, such as genuine suspicion of inappropriate conduct. But even in these instances, they argue that it is appropriate to investigate only what employees do on company computers and networks, not their use of personal devices and personal accounts.

Discussion Questions/Topics:

  • If You Made Social Media Policy at Your Employer, What Would You Do?
    1. Monitor all employees. Justify.
    2. Never monitor employees. Justify.
    3. Monitor selectively. If you select this, specify the conditions under which you would monitor, which employees, which devices, and with what frequency. 
    4. Invent other options and explain.

For full credit, make sure you not only post your answers to the discussion but reply to at least 2 other students.  Remember to be courteous and respectful in all of your posts.