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How Your Social Media Posts Affect You and Your Company, Plus Possible LegalCconsequences.

It’s out there – forever! 

Social media is a great place to reconnect, share, and learn, but never forget – once you post something online, it is out there, forever, and there is no going back and no control. It is important that you understand the ripple effect and consequences of what you share. “People have to share everything they do these days, from meals to nights out, to selfies of themselves half-naked in a mirror. The borders between public and private are dissolving.” – Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other

How can your social media engagement impact you personally?
One thing to consider is the fact that your profile on social media can have a major impact on your job opportunities. When using social recruiting, employers usually look at the candidates’ online behaviour/profile, information that supports the job qualifications, how the candidate interacts with other users and what others are saying.

Does your online persona fit the company’s image?
Sharing too much is often negatively viewed as an untrustworthy trait. By sharing less, you are already saying more about yourself. Don’t forget hackers spend an incredible amount of time researching social media platforms looking for personal information. Privacy is far more than just setting the privacy options in your social
media accounts. The more information you share, and the more others share about you, the easier it is for fraudsters to engage in social engineering scams which could target you or your organisation. The more information you share in the public domain, the more it is collected and can be used by corporations, governments, and others. Fraudsters on the dark web make money from selling your information. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to consider and limit what you share and what others share about you, regardless of the privacy options you use.

The potential impact of your social media behaviour on your company?
Social media can have multiple impacts both positive and negative on businesses. It is an excellent vehicle for brand recognition, customer engagement, revenue, and customer service. It also is a great tool for evaluating your competitors and how they are using social media for their growth. On the negative side, posts from malicious sources, disgruntled customers, or simply a backlash to something you posted, can have a negative effect, and destroy trust in your brand in a matter of
minutes. Employee’s conduct on social media can often result in work consequences. Though employees may be posting in their personal time – employers are increasingly concerned that their company’s reputation may be harmed by staff actions on social media.

Employees need to remain brand ambassadors for their company when the working day ends. While employees are individuals with their own thoughts and opinions, they may also be associated with their company’s brand, and their actions on social media can have serious consequences for them and for their companies. What is Tweeted, liked, and shared on social media matters. If employees’ accounts are public, they can function as a catalyst for public commentary and criticism.

Employers need to ensure that they have guidelines in place for protecting their company’s reputation. Here are common-sense solutions to what can be a challenging problem:

1. Companies should consider adopting a social media policy so that their employees are clear
on how their actions on social media can potentially affect their jobs.
2. More and more high-profile brands are establishing social media guidelines that protect the company without interfering with their employees’ privacy rights.
3. Mandate that your employees should make it clear that their posts are personal and purely their own.
4. Sensitive and internal company information should not be shared. They must also uphold copyright and reference laws.

Here are some helpful privacy considerations when using social media:

1. Check your privacy settings and enable them to best protect your information.
2. Don’t publish confidential or too much personal information.
3. Don’t post inappropriate, prohibited, false or criminal content.
4. Don’t place employees, competitors, suppliers or third parties in a negative light.
5. Don’t mention your company in a post – leave any company related comments to the authorised company spokespeople.
6. Use strong passwords.
7. Don’t befriend strangers and never blindly accept connection requests.
8. Review and remove unnecessary connections.
9. Remember – you are responsible for anything you retweet, share, or are tagged in.
10. Legal consequences of using social media.

South Africans can potentially face jail time and hefty fines if they are found to contravene legislative mandates. It is also a criminal offence to spread harmful or bigoted messages online. And remember – you need consent before you share other people’s photos.

4 things never to post on social media:

1. Offensive comments about your workplace/manager/employer.
2. Derogatory, racist, or sexist comments.
3. Sexually explicit photos or videos without consent.
4. Posts inciting violence or destruction of property.

Terms and conditions:
This covers so much information that we could draft a newsletter covering this alone. We will not be unpacking it here but please take note of the following:

The terms of service are a legally binding contract between you, the user, and the social media platform in which you agree to adhere to the platform’s terms in exchange for the right to use its services. Always be aware of what you are agreeing to. Most social media platforms are free to most users and as a result there must be some benefit exchange – read the terms and conditions and remember there is no such thing as a free meal! Should you be as fascinated by this topic as we are, we recommend reading the following:

Don’t film yourself having sex by Emma Sadleir and Tamsyn de Beer.
Selfies, sexts, and smartphones by Emma Sadleir and Dr Lizzie Harrison

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