The long arm of social media

Many people use social media without a care in the world, this is catching up on certain individuals as cases are being taken to court and legal precedents set.

This week in the UK two cases have occurred:

  1. Employee sacked due to Facebook use at work
  2. High profile person found guilty of libel via Twitter

Facebook contributes to job loss
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, a publicly funded body, dismissed a member of staff for accessing Facebook during working hours. The Agency claimed there were other conduct issues too, but it’s the use of Facebook at work that has hit home.

Many organisations don’t allow staff to access social networking sites on work computers, but as mobile apps have developed it may be the only way to prohibit social media usage at work is to confiscate mobiles on the way in to the office. This is already occurring in several schools, although that’s a different issue.

High profile person found guilty of libel via Twitter
The High Court ruled that a tweet published by Sally Bercow about Lord McAlpine was libellous.
Twitter is a great place for sharing news, but when it comes to repeating – or retweeting – a so-called news item that has no foundation or has not been proven, you could now find yourself guilty of libel. We don’t know the amount of damages that Sally Bercow has had to pay, but a court case is certainly expense by the time you've hired a lawyer and barrister at the High Court.

One of the challenges with Twitter is that as soon as you’ve shared information it can be easily shared with thousands of other people and this makes it difficult to remove or deny. There are also the Washington State Digital Archives which are possibly the first archives dedicated specifically to the preservation of electronic records and include Twitter in its data set. This means that one sudden outburst could be recorded forever.

Next time you’re tempted to share something that may not be entirely true, think twice or be prepared to dig out your cheque book.

If you like this story, do share and tweet me @annmariehanlon, and if you have any favourite UK business blogs of your own, please do share them with me! 

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