Northern Exposure

Blogs and Why You Should Care

McCarthy Tetrault

A “blog,” short for web log, is akin to an online diary or an electronic discussion board that often includes a mix of commentary and opinions from visitors to the website. More and more employers are dealing with employees who may be blogging about their work. Here are some questions you should consider.

Q. Why should I care about blogs?
A. The number of blogs is rapidly increasing. In its April 2007 “State of the Blogosphere” report, Technorati stated that at least 120,000 new blogs are created worldwide each day. And many employers are finding themselves the subject of blogs.

Q. Are there benefits to blogs?
A. If used properly, there may be. Blogs can (1) create two-way dialogue between senior management and employees; (2) encourage discussion through their informal nature; (3) help senior management understand and respond to frontline issues; and (4) permit virtual teams to share ideas from different locations.

Q. What problems are associated with blogs?
A.
Blogs are relatively uncensored and can contain content that (1) is defamatory about your company, your company’s products, or your company’s employees; (2) harms the reputation of your company; (3) discloses confidential information; or (4) results in persons attributing the personal views of one of the company’s employees to the company.

Q. How can I mitigate the risks associated with blogs?
A.
We recommend that you work with your legal counsel to review your existing policy regarding use of the Internet or other electronic media. Your company’s policy may need to be revised to address issues related to blogging and should include restrictions on when blogging is permitted in the workplace, when employees may attribute comments to the company, and the consequences of breaching the policy.