Social Media Ethics
The use of social media at work places is continuing to draw ethical issues among employees and employers. Among the issues that have attracted much attention is the use of social media to comment on the leadership or overall management at the place of work. Many employees are now using social media to hire or punish their employees, and this is raising eyebrows from trade unions as this whether such actions amount to violation of privacy or protected concerted activity by the employees. This paper discusses ethical issues related to the use of social media at places of work.
Key words: social media, concerted activity, employee, employer
Social Media Ethics
As the use of social media in work places continue to be entrenched in the normal work routines of employees, employers are finding a way to spy and eavesdrop on the discussions and opinions that employees have, concerning the organization. This has escalated to the extent where employees are using social media to punish or banish employees who make negative or disparaging remarks on the company. This paper discusses the ethical issues involved in the use of social media between employees and employers.
In one case before NLRB, BMW fired one employee for posting on Facebook about the company serving hot dogs during a sales event instead of serving more upscale foods. The company management determined the comment to amount to disparaging remarks and fired the employee for ridiculing the company. The NLRB determined that the employee was unfairly dismissed because the issue of serving hot dogs to customers was of concern to other employees and that the company also stood to lose customers because of serving them with hot dogs. The board argued that the employee only engaged in protected concerted activity that the company stood to benefit if it changed the kind of foods it served its customers (Tanick, 2012).
I agree with the decision by the NLRB in the case above because the company would be the final beneficiary as a result of serving upscale foods. In addition, the company failed to show that it had engaged the opinion of the employees on the kind of foods they were serving their customers.
The above case would lead to better employee relations at BMW if the company management would had decided to assemble the views of the employees on the kind of foods they were serving their customers and give them an opportunity to suggest the foods they thought would attract more customers to the company dealership. On the other hand, the above case would lead to poor employee relations in a manner that the company would become suspicious of social media activities of its employees and, therefore, curtail the privacy that employees need in social lives. The company is likely to use spies and fake befriending to collect information from the employees (Houbre, 2012).
I would communicate the above decision through meetings with employees and emphasis on the importance of following the right channel to present issues that concern the company. I would also encourage employees to be open with their creative suggestions about the services of the company which are likely going to increase the competitiveness of the company in business. I would also advocate for adoption of a social media policy that is agreeable by both parties. The social media would include privacy, company reputation, and the extent to which a post of comment can amount to disparaging remark. This is because these are the issues that have continued to raise cases in the use of social media in recent times.
Houbre, M. (2012). Social Media Policies and Protected Activity. PR Newswire. Available at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/social-media-policies-and-protected-activity-169023316.html
Murphy &. King (2012). Employee Social Media Use and Concerted Activity. Available at: http://www.murphyking.com/newsevents/Employee_Social_Media_Use_and_Concerted_Activity/
Tanick, A. (2012). Labor: Social Media Posts as Protected Concerted Activity under the NLRA. Available at: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/01/02/labor-social-media-posts-as-protected-concerted-ac