A variation of this post was originally published on my old blog: KM Space.
When employees create their own blogs, comment on a blog, create a LinkedIn profile, use Facebook and/or contribute to or through any of the other online media (i.e., Wikis, blogs, chat rooms, Internet forums, electronic mailing lists, etc.) they are impacting their personal image and potentially affecting the company. If your profile online indicates that you work at the company, then that activity is associated with the company.
[For law firms: When it comes to expressing opinions about anything having to do with the law, law firm employees are in a special position and have some limitation that other industries do not have. Statements in public forums may inadvertently create an attorney-client relationship, and may also violate the rules prohibiting law firm advertising.
Add others for other regulated industries]
Follow these guidelines when creating and/or publishing content online:
· Maintain Client Confidentiality. Work for clients and the identities of our clients must be held in confidence to the extent appropriate for that client and client relationship. You must comply with the company’s Client Confidentiality Policy.
[For law firms: · Be mindful of creating an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you not advise any course of action with respect to a particular set of facts. There can be a fine line between supplying legal information and supplying legal advice. Focus on new and interesting things happen in your area of expertise. Be careful asking specific questions.]
· Think first. Remember you are publishing in a public forum, so don’t publish anything that you wouldn’t want to be viewed by your family, colleagues or the general public. Since content is easily transferred and replicated across the internet, it is nearly impossible to delete content once it has been published.
· Identify yourself. If you are commenting or publishing on topics related to your job, identify yourself as an employee of the company. You may link to your bio on our public website.
· Disclaimers. You should make it clear that you are expressing views that are your own and not those of the company.
· Be careful about jeopardizing business relationships. If you are commenting on a matter, consider whether the position you take may be adverse or offensive to any of our clients. In case of any doubt, check with the head of your department.
· Be respectful. Rumors and gossip spread like wildfire on the Internet. Be respectful of your colleagues, the company, and our competitors.
· Follow the law. This should be obvious. In particular, be cautious of securities law violation and copyright violation. You must be familiar with and comply with the Copyright Policy.
· Use of logos or service marks. The company’s logo or service mark cannot be used.
· Anonymous Contributions. The same cautions and restrictions on communications apply to supposedly “anonymous” blogs, comments, posts or other content. There almost nothing is truly anonymous on the internet. You should not use anonymity as a shield for malicious or wrongful content.
- Registration: If you have a blog that is related to your job, it must be registered with ______.
- Media: Media inquiries related to your blog should be handled like any other media inquiry.
- Disclaimer: There should be a prominent disclaimer or link to a disclaimer on the main page, as well as in the “About” portion of your blog. See _______ for an appropriate disclaimer.
- Name of Blog: Neither the title of the blog nor the URL of the blog may include the company name.
- Comments: Bloggers may allow others to comment on their posts. Comments may be attributable to the blogger so you should be prepared to moderate comments and delete offensive comments.
- Content: Do you have questions about what is appropriate to discuss on your blog? Ask the head of your department.
Commenting on Blogs
You should treat the comments you make on another blog the same as you would treat posts on your own blog
LinkedIn is a powerful professional online networking tool. [For law firms:For attorneys, LinkedIn is a relatively new tool and state bar regulators have not ruled on what is appropriate.
- Avoid answering legal questions. It is very easy to inadvertently create an attorney-client relationship. The line between supplying legal information and legal advice is very gray.
- Recommendations are particularly problematic. In some jurisdictions they can be viewed as testimonials and attorney advertising. Attorneys should avoid providing recommendations to other attorneys for that reason. If you receive a recommendation, please have it promptly reviewed by ________. Non-attorney staff members may recommend other non-attorneys if they otherwise comply with the above guidelines.]
Facebook/MySpace/Other Social Network Sites
Although these are largely social tools, if you are a member of the company’s network or list the company in your work information then your activity in these types of sites impacts the company as well as your personal image. The guidelines are applicable to your use of these sites.
Any edits you make to wikipedia while using a company computer can potentially be tied back to the company. Even an anonymous edit marks the editor with its Internet Protocol address. This IP address can easily be tied back to the company.
Twitter is a type of blogging, limited to 140 characters per post.
If the Company determines that you have violated your obligations under this policy, the Company has the option to take certain steps which may include, among others, warnings, suspension, probation, and discharge.
[Keep updating the policy as new social internet tools come into play]
[These rules should not be used if your are regualted by FINRA. They have stricter limitations on the use of the internet.]