Privacy and Social Media

Privacy and Social Media

Employers and employees are subject to privacy laws. In Canada there are a number of laws that relate to privacy rights, federally there is the Privacy Act, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

People expect to have some level of privacy at work, even if they are on their employer’s premises and using the employer’s equipment. However the potential for trespassing on employees’ privacy is increasing at an alarming rate. Phone records, GPS, entry- exit security cards, browser history, video surveillance, keystroke recording; the list is endless in terms of what information your employer can collect about you.

But what about what you do & say when you are not at work, not on company equipment?

Surprisingly, when engaging in social media activities, the issue isn’t whether or not you are on employers’ time. It doesn’t matter WHEN or WHERE you post your comments, what matters when it comes to your employment is WHAT you post.

  • Want to blow off some steam about work?
  • Feel the need to vent about your employer?
  • Anxious to let the world know what you really think of your boss?

Think twice before hitting the SEND key.

It is becoming more and more evident that an employee’s use of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram may lead to justifiable discipline and or termination by an employer.

So, a few cautionary thoughts before you rant;

  • Remember Facebook, Twitter, et al are not officially private.
  • Information you share online always has the ability to be copied, pasted and redistributed in a way you may have never intended.
  • Be diplomatic, negative comments can be used against you.
  • Your on-line comments can be used in legal proceedings.

A recent case in Canada found that “regardless of whether you intend your posts to be relatively private, courts and arbitrators have tended to conclude that posts on social media sites are easily disseminated and may be considered public if viewed by your “friends.””

Keep these thoughts in mind as you unwind at the end of the day with the intention of venting and getting a few thoughts off your chest!

Or…. think of these folks, who are among a growing number of Canadians who have been fired as a result of their on line rants;

  • Two Toronto firefighters lost their jobs after posting “misogynistic and offensive tweets.”
  • The BC Labour Relations Board upheld the firing of two car dealership employees over comments they posted on Facebook about their employer.
  • Two unionized workers at a detailing shop in B.C. were fired over an offensive and threatening Facebook post aimed at their manager in which they publicly aired workplace grievances.
  • A pulp & paper worker, after 13 years on the job was fired following a Facebook status update in which she verbally attacked specific managers at her workplace.

So, if you think that what you post on your personal Facebook page is private; think again.

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