Social Media Policy


Wikis and blogs are commonly used social media platforms for people to engage in collaborative work and promote an organisation’s digital brand. Whilst the use of social media platforms is a great tool for reaching a larger audience, organisations must ensure appropriate social media policies are in place to prevent incidents such as employees leaking private company information on sites, such as Facebook. “Dooced” is an internet expression that means to lose one’s job because of comments made on social media platforms. So using common sense and being responsible is important.

According to Dundas Lawyers, it is imperative for organistaions to have a Social Media Policy (SMP) in place to make employees and contractors aware of what conduct is unacceptable and would likely lead to termination of employment. The SMP is a legally binding document that exists alongside a contract of employment.

It is essential for companies to have SMP’s in place to protect the company both internally and externally. Some common examples of employee misconduct that may leave an employer exposed and liable are: copyright breaches, trademark breached, confidentiality breaches, privacy breaches, defamation and discrimination claims.

About BBC

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the largest broadcaster in the world. The BBC is a British public service broadcaster and it main responsibility is to provide public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The BBC is a semi-autonomous public service broadcaster that operates under a Royal Charter and a Licence and Agreement from the Home Secretary. Within the United Kingdom, the work is funded primarily by an annual television licence fee.

Outside the UK, the BBC World Service has provided services by direct broadcasting and re-transmission contracts by sound radio since December 1932, and more recently by television and online. Though sharing some of the facilities of the domestic services, particularly for news and current affairs output, the World Service has a separate Managing Director, and its operating costs have historically been funded mainly by direct grants from the British government.

BBC and the use of Social Media

BBC’s current social media policies do not prohibit employees’ accessing social network websites or using web 2.0 applications.  This means employees can engage in posting pictures, messages and videos on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MSN during work time.

Internal risks:

Confidential Information

When employees post the articles, messages or pictures relating to their work on blogs, Facebook or Twitter, they might inadvertently disclose sensitive or confidential information about the BBC . The information assets of this company could also be deliberately exposed by disgruntled employees.

Legal implications

While the increasing use of social media in organisations is beneficial in many respects, it is essential to ensure the organisation is protected from any legal implications. The BBC and the ‘Twitter bomb hoax case’, whereby the BBC broadcast Twitter images during a news broadcast reached the High Court. This served as a wake up call to the BBC and highlighted the need to understand the legal ramifications of the use of social media and the need to implement a ‘prevention rather than cure’ policy in the organisation.

External risks:

Technology Risks

External attackers can gain valuable information by listening to voice conversations, searching email messages and even controlling the built-in camera to take pictures or record video on employees’ mobile devices. In addition, all messages between the sender and the receiver could be controlled by a third party impersonating an individual or group with whom the BBC has been communicating with. This situation might result from certain attacks including phishing, social engineering and email address or webpage spoofing.

Potential Consequences

Attackers might disclose confidential information they have gained about the BBC. For example, the email addresses of BBC Company customers, the latest reports and exclusive photos stolen from employees’ personal devices could be sold to competitive companies. Fictitious or amended new stories could be produced and published once attackers gain access to personal devices. This would considerably harm the reputation of BBC Company.

Social Media Policy

Whilst the BBC does not prohibit the use of social media, they have recently tightened up guidelines for employees using social media tools within the workplace.

The BBC guidelines are divided into three areas:

1. Your own personal activity, done for your friends and contacts, but not under or in the name of BBC News

2. Activity for core news (breaking news), programs, or genres carried out officially in the name of BBC News

3. Activity of editors, presenters, correspondents, or reporters carried out as part of official BBC News output.

Any use of social media must first be approved by an employee’s line manager, according to the BBC’s editorial policy guidelines.

BBC published its social media guidelines (PDF) for journalists in order to deal with some of these potential legal risks. In addition to this, BBC has provided its official tweeters’ guidance (PDF) to avoid personal interests or unrelated issues. More BBC’s social media strategies on social networking and microblogging sites are introduced in its guidance. There is a tendency that BBC will become considerably successful in Enterprise 2.0 under its social media guidelines and guidance.

TheNextWeb blog also discusses the new BBC social media policy that requires “a second pair of eyes” to review every Facebook post (and Twitter update, for that matter) related to news reporting. The policy clearly states, “A second check might well avoid you saying or linking to something unwise, which could land you, or the BBC, in trouble.”

Whilst I think the BBC’s social media policies are a step in the right direction, I think the BBC should introduce legally binding contracts prohibiting employees from using social media tools for work-related purposes outside the workplace, as employees personal devices are at increased risks of attack, due to inadequate security.


11 responses »

  1. While new social medias policy from BBC is better but it still cannot help BBC from external risks. I think this is more of an overall security problems from BBC. For internal issues, it should be enough with the new SMPs.


    Prapat W.

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  4. hi areej
    I like your post as it include the most risks and the policy needed to avoid these risks.
    educating people of the risks of using socila media is essential , and presentg the video in your post is really helpful for the users and also for BBC employees.

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