Is it okay to engage in social media use at work? Well….that depends on who you ask and where they work. We have to keep in mind that the world is changing rapidly and social media is helping that along. What used to be appropriate or inappropriate maybe ten years ago is viewed quite differently now. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were not part of a routine that individuals or companies for that matter utilized on a daily basis. It seems now that if an employer wants to be relevant a social media presence is a must. But the real questions then become how do we define the use of social media in the workplace? When is it okay for an employee (s) to use social media at work? Should employees refrain from doing it or utilize their skills and put them to good use on the company’s social media site (s) only? Those questions are not always easy to answer. It feels sometimes that it depends on the work environment and at times that means that yes, the employer has to be politically correct so as to not risk infringing on someone’s right to express themselves freely and that too may include personal social media use at work.
I can tell you speaking from experience, I stay away from using personal social media while at work. I work in a congressional office and our salaries are taxpayer funded. It is of high importance that everyone in the office focus on their work and if their is social media engagement it is for professional not personal reasons. But that is the office I work in, other offices may have different policies in place. I would think that most companies have a unique way of operating. Some work environments are more strict and believe in an office manual like the office that I work in. Other offices may believe that personal social media use whether it be professional or personal is highly acceptable.
It seems to me that at times it is important to be “politically correct” in order to strike just the right balance. An office manual addressing social media is helpful. Allowing limited social media use at work even if it is personal should be acceptable. Let’s be direct here if all use of social media is banned in the workplace we all know people will find a way to go around the rules or flat out break them so allowing limited social media use is just the right thing to do. Furthermore, it is imperative that the employer make it clear that all discussions of the work environment should be refrained from. I say this because if look back to 2014, Elizabeth Lauten the communications director for Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (R- Tennessee) was fired over derogatory comments she made online about what President Obama’s daughters wore during the annual Turkey pardoning. Ms. Lautner said: “Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class,” Lauten wrote: “Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar (O’ Keefe, DelReal, 2014)”
Look our First Amendment Right gives us the freedom to express ourselves freely, however, that does not mean that our actions do not have consequences. We live in a world where our personal information such as: phone numbers, addresses, date of birth etc. are all online for everyone to see and that certainly includes the things we post on social media. We have to remember if we are going to use social media while we are at work it is still that: work. CNBC reports that in the past 28 percent of employers have fired employees for using social media at work. We are there to do a job so how much we use our personal social media sites and even what we write needs to be limited in terms of time and what we say. Crossing our personal social media site use with our professional media site use can lead to trouble and potential termination. It seems that the best approach is to create a social media manual that employees can turn to for guidance.
Carter, Rebekah. (N.D.).Your guide to creating a social media policy. Retrieved from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-policy/
O’Keefe, Ed; DelReal, Jose.(2014, December 1). Hill staffer Elizabeth Lauten resigns after remarks about Obama daughters. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/12/01/embattled-hill-staffer-elizabeth-lauten-reportedly-resigns-after-controversial-remarks/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8924b450cbba
Rapacone, Stacey. (2016, February 5). How using social media can get you fired. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/05/how-using-social-media-can-get-you-fired.html
Schoeneman, KeyAnn. (2012, September 3). 4 Manifestations of Politics Going Social. Retrieved from https://www.ketchum.com/4-manifestations-of-politics-going-social/