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About the Use of Social Media and the Internet in the Workplace

Updated on March 19, 2016
Can I use my business laptop for social media contacts and personal emails?
Can I use my business laptop for social media contacts and personal emails?

Use of social media has rapidly become one of the most popular means of communicating online but it's important for all workers to think carefully about what may or may not be termed acceptable use. Using social media can be a minefield for any employee and you should be mindful of what you are posting whether you happen to be in the workplace or elsewhere at times you make any comments or posts.

Acceptable Use of Social Media in the Workplace

Every employer has different regulations in place to govern the use of social media in the workplace. Before using social media at work, it's a good idea for every worker to find out exactly what policy is in place and work to the guidelines provided by your employer.

Some businesses produce their own Facebook or social media pages which they are happy for employees to access during working hours, to communicate with other members of the team, in the way the "water cooler" has always been used for chat between employees.

Your employer can legally monitor your use of computers and your Internet activities while you are at work. Most employers carry out this activity as a matter of course. Inappropriate use of the Internet can result in viral infections, loss of bandwidth for company business and a variety of more serious problems for employers.
Misuse of social media in the workplace can result in the loss of productivity that is due to your employer. It may also lead to inappropriate communications between employees and people external to your workplace. Employees commenting in a disparaging fashion about their job or employer may cause harm to the reputation of the company or brand or could unwittingly pass on confidential information or cause security breaches. When there is a confidentiality clause or non-disclosure agreement in place between the employer and workers, it is possible that inappropriate use of social media is a violation of the agreement.


Can my boss fire me if I use the work computer for personal shopping or social media?
Can my boss fire me if I use the work computer for personal shopping or social media?

What Rights does My Employer Have Over my Internet Use

Your employer also has rights to monitor your personal email to a certain extent, although the following laws do protect your personal correspondence in some ways: Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act; 18 U.S.C. § 2511; Electronic Communication Storage Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701; Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030

Your employment can be terminated legally when you use the Internet inappropriately, particularly if your use could be termed sexual harassment or you download pornographic materials of any kind. Using the Internet for shopping and other personal activities can also lead to being fired from your job. While inappropriate posts on websites, blogs or social media that are deemed harmful to your employer are also cause for termination of employment. Employees claiming the rights of the First Amendment to say or do as they please on the Internet in the workplace have found this is not enacted within the workplace, only government employees have rights to free speech and these are limited.

If you have any doubts or worries about the use of social media in the workplace, don't rely on speaking with employee peers. Talk to your manager or the HR department and find out exactly what policies are in place. This is for your protection, as well as your employers.

If you have any doubts or worries about the use of social media in the workplace, don't rely on speaking with employee peers. Talk to your manager or the HR department and find out exactly what policies are in place. This is for your protection, as well as your employer's.

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