Francesca Wild, a lawyer in the employment team here at TWM was interviewed by Eagle Radio about the perils of social media in the workplace, including the dangers of badly worded tweets. Below is the article in full:
Social media is a very powerful medium. It can help raise a company's profile as well as put them in touch with countless clients that they would not have been able to reach otherwise. However, it should also be treated with caution.
Over the last few years, there have been increasing numbers of cases where people have got into legal trouble from putting out a badly worded comment on Twitter or Facebook from a company account.
Francesca tells us exactly what can happen if a derogatory or libellous comment is posted online from a business social media account: "If the comment is just not very nice, then it's up to the person or company that you commented about to decide whether to pursue you in a civil action.
"Obviously, you'd need to be conscious of the negative publicity and how that would impact the company.
"If it was particularly serious and amounted to harassment, perhaps it was discriminatory in some way, then there's potential for you to be pursued on criminal grounds for harassment.
"Depending on how serious the comment was, it's up to the police to decide on what basis to charge somebody if they felt it was a criminal issue.
Francesca explains that the majority of businesses are more likely to face civil actions: "Civil actions would be as a result of false, misleading or derogatory comments resulting in some sort of financial loss which meant that particular company would be entitled to some sort of damages.
"You could be facing a fairly significant legal battle in that respect.
"On a more general level, even if you manage to avoid a legal battle, none of this looks good for the business and has cost consequences in terms of loss of reputation.
Francesca warns that businesses should always have some sort of social media policy in place: "There should be a clear line of command as to who is ultimately responsible for that company's social media output.
"It will be helpful for employers if those kinds of things are established."
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