Today, I spoke at my firm’s semi-annual Labor & Employment seminar on seemingly everyone’s favorite topic lately: social media. We had a huge crowd today and had a lot of audience participation.  I know I speak for my whole department in thanking those who attended.

One of the topics that several people spoke to me afterwards about was the notion of these new “disappearing” social media sites.  I touched on this a bit earlier this month with Snapchat — an app that allows people to send or receive pictures or videos that “self-destruct” after a few seconds.

But that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Now, we’re starting to see social media sites that allow you to send “disappearing” messages and updates.

Take, for instance, an app called Ansa, which promises that you can “communicate off the record, so no trace of your conversation is left behind.”

Or a new app called Skim which “erases your messages as you read them… then they’re gone forever. With Skim, you can text your friends, knowing that it’s just like a conversation. No record, no regrets, no worry.”

(Strangely, both sites feature sample messages from an “Ashley” — might this be a clue that people named Ashley have a propensity to use these sites?)

As the founder of Skim stated in a recent article on Techcrunch: “Disappearing content is a growing trend, yet nobody seems to do textual messages very well. At Skim, we have a design-first mentality. Simplicity and beauty is incredibly important, but even more so is security,” said co-founder Jordan Singer. (h/t Ryan McKeen)

For employers, however, all of these new sites — from Snapchat to Skim — should give employers a big headache.  How will you deal with document retention obligations in lawsuits? How do you keep track of these? What if these sites are used for cyberharassment of other co-workers?

In today’s seminar, I discussed how there aren’t a lot of great solutions. The days of simply putting up a firewall at work at over.

Instead, employers need to survey their vulnerable areas, develop a policy, educate employees about the parameters of the policy and monitor how the policy is working.

Most of all, employers need to understand the scope of the issue we are dealing with today.  After all, college kids aren’t all on Facebook anymore — and neither are your employees.

 

 

 

Interested in social media for business but wondering how to deal with a policy to manage it?

Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Technology & Business Development is sponsoring an executive breakfast series seminar on October 3, 2013 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. on Social Media Policy.

I will be among the panel of speakers discussing the subject.  Along with me, will be:

  • Jessica Rich, Director of Operations and Employee Services at The Walker Group;
  • Suzi Craig, Director of Opportunity & Engagement at Fathom;
  • Rob McGuiness, Manager of E-Communications at Pratt & Whitney

In this presentation, we will be covering both the legal aspects of social media policy but also best practices for you and your company to follow.

The executive breakfast program is just $25 and open to the public.  My thanks to CCSU for the invite and TD Bank for its sponsorship of this event.

It will be held at the ITBD headquarters at 185 Main Street, New Britain, CT.  You can RSVP here to attend.  Hope to see you all there.

For additonal background on social media policy, see some of my recent social media policy posts here and here.

Kodachrome

You give us those nice bright colors

You give us the greens of summers

Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah!

I got a Nikon camera

I love to take a photograph

So Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away

Paul Simon, “Kodachrome”

A few months back, I was one of the first to highlight the perils of a new video sharing service, Vine, in the workplace.  And then a month ago, I predicted that the NLRB was likely to jump in on the issue of photo and video sharing.

Little did we all know how soon that time would come.

As Jon Hyman, of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, highlighted:

It appears that Dan’s prediction was right on the money. Last week, the NLRB’s Office of General Counsel published an Advice Memorandum [pdf] (dated March 21, 2012, but, for reasons unknown, which sat unpublished for 16 months).

Among other issues, the memo took up the following prohibition in a supermarket chain’s social media policy:

Do not use any … photographs or video of the Company’s premises, processes, operations, or products, which includes confidential information owned by the Company, unless you have received the Company’s prior written approval.

According to the NLRB Office of G.C., that policy is, on its face, an overly restrictive ban on employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity.

As so, the idea that an employer can “take away” the employees’ photographs and videos — taken digitally, even on a Nikon camera — is now up for dispute.  This isn’t the last word on the issue so I would expect to see more news on this front in the not too distant future.

Until then, enjoy the greens of summer and this Paul Simon song.

 

As I highlighted last month, Vine — a new video-sharing app — is quickly infiltrating the workplace.  Since my original post, I’ve been keeping tabs on what people are doing on it.

And it isn’t pretty.  Videos seem to be increasing with people using hashtags like “#work” or “#worksucks” daily.  They are also using hashtags like “#fml”; if you’re not familiar with the shorthand, the Urban Dictionary has the details.  Hint: It doesn’t mean Fix My Lighthouse anymore.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog wrote about it in a post today (welcome WSJ readers!). 

But I remain amazed at the lack of discretion some employees have. Take this employee who smokes weed IN HIS COMPANY UNIFORM (Vine app required).  Insert your “hashtag” joke here.  (Actually, search for “#tokedaily” or “#wakeandbake” on Vine — you’ll be shocked.)

Or this employee who posts from a popular fast-food restaurant using the hashtags “#hatework” and “#bored”.

Or this employee who seems to work at a popular clothing store and used the hashtag “#hatework”…along with the name of her employer. 

A firewall isn’t going to stop employees from doing this anymore. Instead, some policies and guidelines, and some training is your first line of defense.  

Those who are also quick to attack Vine (much like people derided Facebook) are shooting the messenger. Employees will use whatever seems easy to them; Vine is just the latest example.  It’s up to employers to provide the guidance to employees about what is appropriate. 

Until then, Vine will remain the newest front-line in the ever-increasing use of smartphones in the workplace.