Do employers have social media control?

How much control does a company have over its employees' use of social media? How much social media control does a company have over its employees?

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I am not an HR or HCM professional so there are a lot of things I don't know, but for this purpose let us assume your boss can tell you what to do so long as it's not illegal or immoral and has some relationship to generating the greatest value for your company. Where social media control is concerned, you might want to check on company policies; certainly if your boss doesn't want you on Twitter or Facebook, he or she should be able to direct your activities.

But in a related matter, there was an article in the news recently about companies that tried to control what their employees said or did on social media and the different implications. According to this story in the New York Times, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a New Deal-era regulatory body, has told many companies that they can't limit what their employees say about a company they work for, even if what they say is not flattering to the company or the boss. 

According to the article, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects the speech if it can be construed as one employee talking to another about the job, working conditions and similar things. That does not mean you get a free pass to call your boss names, however.

This was first published in February 2013

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