Can’t Block This!—Best Practices for Your Company’s Social Media Policy

Federal Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that President Trump could not block certain Twitter users from viewing his tweets, and that doing so was in violation of the U.S. Constitution. This ruling comes on the heels of President Trump—whose Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump—blocking some of his critics, many of them celebrities, from his Twitter account. Those blocked range from novelist Stephen King to comedian Rosie O’Donnell to Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.

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In the May 23, 2018 ruling, Judge Buchwald said that the president’s account, which has more than 52 million Twitter followers and more than 37,800 tweets, is a public forum and that blocking users from having the ability to directly reply to the president’s tweets is a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. The Judge did rule, however, that President Trump could “mute” users he wished to ignore, which would still allow them to respond to his tweets.

Social media is a great way to humanize your brand and put a real face with real people behind your company’s social media presence. Companies that have dedicated social media platforms can use these outlets as an avenue and extension of their in-person customer service. When looking at your own company’s social media rules for employees, consider the culture of the company, the brand you’d like portray, and whether your social media policy impedes on employees’ First Amendment rights.

Here are a few quick tips for drafting your company’s social media policy:

  1. Consider whether prohibiting employees from associating themselves with the company on social media is a good idea. Many companies allow employees to associate themselves with the company when posting, but the employee must clearly state that their online posts are personal and solely their own opinion, so as to prevent any liability for the company and prevent possible brand backlash.
  2. Implement a policy where employees must reference proper copyright and source credit laws when posting articles and news online.
  3. Warn employees that any dishonorable content such as racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, and physical disability will not tolerated.
  4. Do not allow employees to disclose any company information that is financial, operational and legal in nature, as well as any information that pertains to clients and customers.
  5. Ensure that employees that are “official” Twitter users for the company are identified as such. Further, the company’s official Twitter users should stick to customer replies and interaction, and not engage in unnecessary banter.