Since assuming office in May 2009, Shashi Tharoor has been more in the news for his tweets rather than his work as the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs. Is Tharoor right in criticizing his own Government’s policies on a public forum like Twitter? Or are his colleagues in Parliament devoid of a sense of humour? Well, let’s leave that debate for another day. For now, let’s take lessons from Tharoor’s “tweet-in-mouth” troubles and draw out some basic guidelines for employees who use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc. to publish content related to their work.
Look before you leap: Before putting up any content on the internet, please remember that you are on a public forum. So do not publish anything that you wouldn’t want to be viewed by your family, friends, colleagues, clients, business associates or the general public.
Identify yourself: If you are writing on topics related to your work, then identify yourself, your company and if necessary, your role in the company. Do not work anonymously or use pseudonyms.
Use a disclaimer: Make it very clear that the views and opinions expressed are your own and not those of your company.
Follow the law: Be aware of and comply with laws governing copyright, fair use and financial disclosure.
Protect confidential/proprietary information: Do not disclose confidential/proprietary information of your company or similar information shared by third parties with your company. Also, avoid posting pictures or details of a private conversation without seeking permission from the concerned person(s).
Exercise discretion: Never identify colleagues, clients or business associates without their approval. Similarly, avoid discussing internal policies or commenting upon sensitive and confidential details of client engagements.
Be safe rather than sorry: Be respectful of your company, colleagues, clients, business associates, competitors and the general public. Remember that content on a public domain will be accessible to the entire world for a long period of time. So do not publish something that will come back to haunt you later.
Follow the above guidelines and you could save yourself from some embarrassment!