What is Social Media?

Entries in Risk (2)


Social Media and HR - What are the legal risks?

The explosion in the use of social media by employees and customers has dramatically increased the level of exposure for organizations to reputational risk, IP leakage, copyright infringements, anti-trust issues and more. 

Social media has created a minefield, especially in the area of HR management, with the widespread use of online tools to find, vet, recruit and manage staff.

Now that every employee has a virtual megaphone to the world to share confidential information, intentionally or through poor judgement, organizations need to understand what the risks are and how to defend against them through education, sound social media strategy and appropriate policies.

Finding a legal expert that understands these issues is not easy.

Fortunately for Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., Cynthia Gibson (Vice President Legal) is an expert that understands HR and the evolving area of social media related legal risk management. 

Recently, Mrs. Gibson delivered an incredibly informative 90 miunute webinar that was packed full of practical information, including:

Which laws apply?

Not only did Ms. Gibson review the applicable laws but she also cited recent cases and examples.

• The Electronic Communications Privacy Act

• The Stored Communications Act

• Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

• National Labor Relations Act

• Privacy Rights

• Free Speech Rights

• Federal Trade Commission

• Whistleblowers

• Lawful Non-Work Activity Statutes

• Reporter’s Privilege

• Limitations

What are the Challenges for HR & Management:

Social media is a powerful new tool for both recruitment and management but it comes with a host of challenges for managers.

• Background checks

• Discrimination

• Harassment and Retaliation

• Disloyalty

• Insubordination

• Employee monitoring

What are the Risks to your Organization

Senior management needs to always have an eye on risk management. Many of the legal risks associated with social media are actually not new. What is new is that now every employee in your organization has the capacity to do far greater damage must faster and wider than ever before, requiring a new degree of diligence.

• Litigation

• Disclosure of confidential information and trade secrets

• Defamation

• Copyright violations

• Unfair competition

• Competitive intelligence

• Negligent hiring and retention

• Damage to reputation

Social Media Opportunities and Best Practices

Not everything to do with social media represents risk and downside, there is of course, great opportunity to grow your organization, improve communications, gain new customers, find outstanding employees and earn new revenue.

The goal is to be able to leverage all of the positive opportunities that social media promises without incurring undo risk. Ms. Gibson does an excellent job of explaining the risks that exists, citing examples of recent cases, and providing some straight forward advice for managers on how to leverage social media wisely. 


NOTE: Access to the recorded webinar session is still available. For just $149.00 you get:

•Instant Access to the recorded Webinar for 6 months!  

•Copy of the presentation slides

• Free bonus materials: “Online Community Management Guidelines and Checklist”!



Managing an Association's Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures 

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recently hosted a webinar on Managing an Association’s Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures.

Together with Jared Anderson from Axis Pro, we talked about the different categories of risk that organizations are exposed to when using social media.

This included: 

Employment – How you use social media to identify, qualify, recruit, retain and even dismiss employees is one of the most delicate areas from a risk perspective.

Privacy – Who owns a social media profile when it is used for work? Are social media communications private if company equipment is used?

Copyright  –  In an era of “copy & click” it is all too easy for staff, volunteers  or members to violate copyrighted materials or have your copyrights breached.

Intellectual Property – Who owns materials that are created by your collective social media communities? How do you defend your ownership rights?

Anti-trust  - Just like in the offline world, collusion, price fixing or anti-competitive behavior is a potential liability for your organization.

Defamation – For some reason, people can be more aggressive when communicating online than they would be in person. This can lead to mistakes being made that have a liability for the organization.

Marketing – If you are operating in a regulated or restricted  area of commerce (health care for example), you need to be aware of the limitations on certain types of marketing and sales activities. 

Trade secrets – Because of the ease of copying confidential information that is not only widely disseminated, but it becomes almost impossible to retrieve once it is out.

The bottom line is that your D&O, Media or E&O insurance policy is most likely not up to date and therefore may not be giving you the coverage that you need. It is also impossible to cover every possible liability and therefore a social media plan that includes solid policies and procedures is needed to minimize uncovered exposure.

Suggestion? Make sure you have a professionally developed social media strategy and talk with your insurance agent or broker to understand which social media related risks, if any, you currently have covered.

Want to listen to the recorded webinar session?

Click: Managing an Association’s Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures.