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A triangle of trouble: Social media, employees and employers

Social media is a fact of life for almost everyone these days. Since employees are on social media, there are some questions that might come up about what, if any, control employers can have over what employees are posting on social media.

If your employer does try to control your social media accounts, there are some points that you need to consider. Even though it might be unpleasant, there are instances when your employer is entitled to inform you that you can't post something on social media. On the reverse side, there are times when the employer doesn't have a say in what an employee posts.

Was a trade secret revealed?

Employees shouldn't reveal trade secrets anywhere, including online. You can't reveal your employer's information and think that nothing will be said. In fact, if you signed any type of contract for your employment, it might have included a confidentiality agreement. You can actually face legal action if you reveal trade secrets and some other forms of information if you are bound by a confidentiality clause.

When was the post made?

The time when the post was made has a big impact on whether employers can say anything about it. If you made the post while you were at work, your employer might have something to say about it since you were being paid to do the duties of the business. This isn't a consideration if you are at home or off work when you made the post.

Was the post made in the scope of employment duties?

Any social media posts done within the scope of your employment might be controllable by the employer. This doesn't mean that you have to state that you are representing the company in the post. Instead, the inferences of the post can have an impact. This is why is it is important for you to double check how the post might seem to others before you put it online.

Employees who feel that an employer is acting illegally when it comes to controlling employees' social media accounts may wish to take action. First, learn about state and federal laws. This is a matter that can often hinge on a tiny detail. Make sure that you are considering your case individually and not assuming that what happened to someone else will apply in your situation.

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