maandag 20 mei 2013

Why Have a Disclaimer For Social Media

Somebody acted surprised when she learned that I had a disclaimer for my "Blog Klaas Bos" (see right-hand bar). Was it because I had serious problems with my social network activities? Rest assured: absolutely not! Still, I want to make clear the basics behind my blogging activities.
Here are some reasons why a disclaimer for social media is recommended.

There are two ways to look at the need – or at least: desirability – of having a disclaimer: 1. the employee, and 2. the employer.

1. Employee and Social Media:
We’re living in a kind of a contract society, in which more and more relationships are formally nailed down, in contracts. And in case something goes wrong, you’re likely to end up in court. For example, personal injury attorneys represent a thriving branch in legal business. Like they say in such a case: "I sue you".

A disclaimer works as some kind of an insurance policy. Be prepared and that’s not such a big effort! Feel free to copy-paste my disclaimer (see below).

There are a few additional considerations to have a disclaimer:
  • freedom of speech, meaning that I’m not required to take my employer’s opinions into account
  • private and work intermingle more and more, also (or: especially) on social media
  • I don’t want to have an argument with my employer in case I unexpectedly write something undesirable in a post or tweet.

A disclaimer is no excuse to post or tweet whatever you like. Apply the Golden Rule: one should treat others (your employer) as one would like others to treat oneself!

2. Employer and Social Media:
In my opinion, employers are advised to request their employees to have a disclaimer. Precisely because work and private intermingle, the outside world may quickly conclude that positions of employees are also the company’s ones. The outside world may get confused if information is ambiguous. An employee’s disclaimer in fact reduces her or his positions to no more than personal ideas.

In addition, it is advised to instruct (new) employees about how to deal with company information. What is classified as company secret, what is confidential? For example, what are the rules regarding photos taken in the company environment? Draft a secrecy agreement and have it signed by all employees!

Finally: it’s not my intention to have disagreements with my employer or to look for controversy, on the contrary. And for those of you who think a disclaimer is overdone: simply forget about it.

Disclaimer For My Blog
You can find my disclaimer in the right-hand column of this page – in Dutch, so I owe you the translation:
  1. This is my personal blog. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer, Chemelot Campus B.V.
  2. The information on this blog is purely informal and serves no official purposes.
  3. I give positive judgment about products or services, because of my own positive experiences (not because I was paid for it).
  4. I don’t vouch for the accuracy, completeness, actuality, applicability, and validity of the information on this site or the information that can be found via a link on this site.
To this I add: any misunderstanding due to errors in the translation from Dutch to English is unintentional.

My question: Is a disclaimer for a blog or another social network useful?

This is a repost of my (Dutch) April 2, 2013 post (to which I added my March 31 post).