Friday, January 30, 2009

Facebook In Your Face--A PR Issue

Interesting story in Grand Rapids Press/Mlive about a Calvin College student being disciplined for content deemed inappropriate on his Facebook page.

The story is interesting for several reasons, and it seems that the language used in this case by a student about another student is worthy of some sort of discipline. 

But, I find it interesting to think about how all organizations will handle situations of employees posting to Facebook or any social media site. Is it free speech, or some brand of speech that can be controlled by corporations or other employers? I'm sure the law is on the side of the employer if something 'material' or a 'trade secret' is spilled in the public sphere. But, it seems to be a legal gray area if an employee comments on a news article or posts opinion contrary to management in a blog or social media forum. 

Last I checked, the law was still emerging on this new media situation. In the meantime, PR people should be considering policies on the issue. And more importantly, proactively fostering open and good relationships with employees and other internal publics to diminish the likelihood of testy social media scenarios.

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