New Jersey Social Media Privacy Law

Many business owners and company executives are wondering how the New Jersey Social Media Privacy Law will impact their operations.  Before the legislation was passed, many employers struggled with how to monitor and control employee online activity.  As a social media consultant I believe that all employers have the opportunity to use this new law as a springboard for training and fostering a sense of community around social media.  The law should be used as an opportunity to talk with employees about the role they play in helping the company for employees and the bottom line.  Here are a few suggestions to get started:

1)  Your company needs a social media policy   Do not impose the policy on your people, gather a team to work on the initiative and make sure all key personnel are involved or represented.  Your company policy should include in-office time spent on personal media accounts.  It should also include the 5 R’s:  Reason, Represent, Responsibility, Respect, and Restraint as described by Jeanne Meister.  

2)  Educate your employees on the importance of social media for the business.  As an employer, you know the damage that can be done by  employees posting negative comments about the job they perform, the people they work with and for, and/or a particular product or service your business offered.  They may not understand how they are negatively impacting the operation, morale, and the company’s bottom line.

3) Provide social media training for your employees so they see that positive use can bloster their current job and position themselves as an expert in the field.  Acting in a negative manner can hurt them as they apply for other positions.  By providing professional development in the area of social media you show that you place importance on your employees and developing their careers.  This type of training is best done by a consultant who works with you to craft the right message for presentations.

So many companies have a Big Brother mentality when it comes to monitoring social media.  I believe it is best to put the right positive policies in place fostering a sense of community and group spirit in using the right sites by the right people to boost your other marketing efforts.

Here are some specifics of the New Jersey Social Media Privacy Law:  Effective December 1st, New Jersey has added a Social Media Privacy Law to the books.  This law prevents employers from asking any applicant or current worker for login information to personal social media accounts.     And there is an exception.  When investigating matters of employee misconduct directly related to their employment, employers may request and be granted access to private accounts.  An example of this would be in a case when perhaps private Facebook messaging was used by one employee to harras another.  However, this law also clearly states that an employer or potential employer may access soical media accounts to the extent that they are open to the general public.  If your personal Facebook page or LInkedIn Profile are open to the public, then that information is fair game to a potential employer.  Additionally, an employer can not demand that an employee friend other company employees.  This new law only covers personal accounts.  If an account is used for business it is not covered.

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