In an earlier article, we considered an employer's options when an employee departs and takes with them the social media contacts they have obtained during the course of their employment. We concluded, with reference to the emerging case law on this topic in the United States and the United Kingdom, that an employee will generally own their social media account, even where an employer has suggested creating the account or where the departing employee permits other employees to use or maintain the account for them.
This article provides some suggestions as to how an employer can create a policy to ensure that it owns its social media accounts and reduce the risk of engaging in litigation with a departing employee with respect to social media contacts, connections and followers. In addition, it provides some tips regarding social media policies more generally.
There is no one-size-fits-all social media ownership policy or social media policy; an employer must craft an individualized policy based on many considerations, including the nature of the employer's business, the workplace environment and whether the employer encourages or discourages the use of social media.
Social Media Ownership Policy
Employers should consider establishing a written policy regarding the employer's ownership of social media accounts created or used by employees on behalf of the employer. Such a policy may:
Define social media; Establish that the employer owns the employer's social media accounts, including content, friends/followers, usernames and passwords; Confirm that the administrative rights to an employer's social media accounts should be limited to certain employees with the permission to post, with the log-in information stored in a secure database which the employer controls; Provide guidelines with respect to the appropriate use of an employer's social media account; Integrate an employer's social media ownership policy with other policies, including polices with respect to confidential information; Outline what happens to an employer's social media accounts when an employee with administrative rights departs; and Ensure that the Company's use of any social media platform...