Employers, Employees & Social Media Privacy

Social media monitoring and privacySocial media has opened the door to many new concerns for companies and organizations around the world—and the concerns are justified.  The water cooler talk has moved online into the social media space.  According to researchers, the number of employers monitoring workers’ social media activity is expected to grow.

Companies want to be sure that they’re not paying for their staff to be engaged in social media playtime during work hours and on company time.  To no avail, some companies have taken it upon themselves to ask for employee social media passwords.  As a company, there is a right and a wrong way to monitor this.  That’s where a social media management consulting company can help you get the information and insight without invading the privacy of your employees or violating the terms of use contained in social media sites.

The most common concerns for companies of all sizes are:

  1. Focus and Productivity.  Is my staff AWOL while working?  Are they tweeting and chatting while at work?  Are they updating their Facebook status while driving the company car?  Is this a liability to my company?  All legitimate concerns for the company.
  2. PR and Reputation Management.  Nowadays, some employees think they can say any and everything about their employer, their job, and their co-workers in the perceived safety of the social media space.  Where does freedom of speech start and stop?  For this reason, corporate communications and media relations get sticky, because what started as a social media rant can turn into a public relations fiasco.
  3. Private Data and Disclosures.  How many times has confidential information been leaked or spread throughout a company or industry?  With social media, expect more of that without attentive tracking of employee social media activities.

As an employer, you have valid concerns; however, you can’t violate a person’s privacy or freedom of speech.  A social media consulting firm is the essential step in helping your company create a justifiable, legal approach to monitoring employees’ use of social media.  Meanwhile, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Create and distribute a comprehensive social media guide
  • Monitor employee use of equipment and activities during work hours
  • Do not use social media to spy on people’s personal lives (especially as it relates to gender, age, race, and their personal choices)
  • Be sure to investigate debatable uses of social media in violation of working hours and access
  • Implement an alert system designed to notify users of specific mention of your company and company projects
  • Do not ask employees for their social media passwords

Don’t be sneaky with it.  Monitoring is not a problem.  Employees understand monitoring systems, as they’ve been active and instrumental in quality assurance training and corporate policy for years.


  1. i have online friends who work and i always wonder how they get away with updating their Facebook status all day long while on the clock. i guess some entities are more flexible than others, while some probably aren’t monitoring (or even care) at all. when it comes to an employer asking for passwords – that’s where i’d draw the line.

  2. I certainly agree with the password line being drawn. It actually puzzles me that a company would ask–some have done it (but not without backlash).

    I see the same thing happening with friends and family on FB too Donna. For some companies, it won’t be long before this activity is slowed down but then again, people have smart phones.

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