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Banning Social Media: Is It Really the Way to Go?

November 16, 2011

Guest Blog by Christine Broad, Solicitor, BlandsLaw

Making news  this week is the Penrith Panthers’ ban on candidates for the upcoming board elections using online or social media sites in support of their campaign.

Whatever the underlying motivation for this ban (cynical or otherwise), it represents an approach that some organisations are taking in response to the use of social media: if we ban it then it can’t hurt us.

Yes there are risks associated with the use of social media- for the individual there is the blurring of the work v private life boundary and the potential to subject themselves to disciplinary proceedings and possibly termination ; for the employer there is risk to brand, reputation and the health and safety of its staff.

However along with the potential risks around the use of social media, it provides opportunities for growth and development for a business not to mention a platform for direct interaction with those most affected or impacted by an organisation.

The reality is that social media is here and those in the positions of employer, management or the like would be much better off managing the risks around its use while harnessing the benefits rather than taking the extreme measure of prohibiting it altogether.

In the case of the Penrith Panthers, and judging by the responses posted online, there appears to be a perception that the ban is an attempt to limit the information available to members and an unreasonable attempt to prevent certain candidates having effective communication with voting members.  Whether this is true or not, in my view the board would be well-advised to re-visit their social media strategy and come up with an effective way to communicate to its members what that strategy is.

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