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Privacy Commissioner’s discussion regarding social networking in the workplace and privacy issues

You may be familiar with social networking sites that provide individuals with opportunities to create a personal profile and ways to interact with each other online. Some of these sites include MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Twitter and Bebo, to name a few. The Privacy Commissioner has created a document you may not be aware of that discusses privacy implications for employees who use social networking in the workplace.

 

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Facebook and employees’ rights

You’ve probably heard by now that some employers in the United States have come up with the idea of asking prospective employees for their Facebook passwords so they can take a closer look at what these candidates are all about. Is it legal? Is it ethical? Is it fair?

 

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The social interview: a case study

Recruiters and employers use social media to screen job applicants on a daily basis. Employers are Googling, Facebooking and checking tweets, walls, status updates and photos of prospective employees, including Linkedln accounts, as a first step in recruiting.

From this new employment practice the concept of the social interview was born.

 

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Year-end round-up

Like most of you, I’m sure, I was extra busy before Christmas last year, and to top it all off, I got sick and had to leave some things unfinished. So I couldn’t bring you this brief round-up of things that happened in the last three months of 2011, much of which has to do with technology and how employers will use it to interact with employees and customers. But it’s a new year and I’ve recovered from my illness and my holidays, so without further ado…

 

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Facebook, privacy and the workplace

You might have heard about the case in which two car dealership workers were fired for cause after they wrote offensive and harassing messages on Facebook about their employer and managers.

 

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Web surfing during work – it is better for employers to take a reasonable approach

New research suggests that it may be wise for employers to take a reasonable approach when dealing with issues of employee web surfing during work; in fact, by banning it outright and excessively patrolling the workplace, employers may cause more harm than good.

 

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Can employers protect business contacts acquired by employees’ use of social media?

Consider this: you have encouraged your employee to use online social media during work time to build professional contacts to grow your business. The employee goes ahead and invests time during the workday visiting sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. This strategy proves to be positive; the contacts have been part of the business growth you have experienced. Then, your employee wants to leave the company and move on to another job. Can you, as the employer, ask for the contact information the employee accumulated during his or her employment?

 

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A brief understanding of Internet defamation or cyber-libel

Internet communication through social networking (or social media), such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter, is fast becoming the most popular mode of communication in the 21st century, and has facilitated freedom of expression and speech, globalization of information and even popular revolutions. Many people enjoy posting their personal views, opinions and musings on blogs, chat rooms, newspaper and magazine articles, and other forums on all topics—artistic, philosophical, educational, social, political and legal.

 

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Social networking and Internet abuse in the workplace – Learn the latest

We’ve written plenty on First Reference Talks about the significant effects—both negative and positive—that online social networking can have on workplaces. Whether its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, news or entertainment blogs or what-have-you, employees are using social media, and increasingly they’re doing it on your time. Employers should be aware of the potential value they can derive from social media, as well as the potential risks.

 

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Join us at the 12th Annual Employment Law Conference

Join us at the 12th Annual, Ontario Employment Law Conference, on June 15, 2011 at the Mississauga Convention Centre. This event is hosted by First Reference, with presentations by the lawyers at Stringer Brisbin Humphrey, experts in the areas of employment and labour law.

 

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Do you need an IT business and implementation strategy?

You already know how important information technology is to your business. You’ve got a website that pushes your brand and maybe even sells your products; you’ve got an internal network that connects all of your employees to each other and the documents they need; you’ve got company email to manage, and maybe a bunch of cellphones and BlackBerrys to keep track of; you’ve got security cameras, passwords, log-ins and keycards; and you’ve got employee management systems covering attendance, payroll, benefits and more. If any of these fails, you’ve also got a big problem.

 

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Multi-tasking: the unfulfilled promise of doing more with less

The common meaning of multi-tasking is doing more than one thing at once, like walking and chewing gum. Do you hold several conversations at the same time—on the phone, on Facebook and in person? Do you listen to music or the radio or watch TV or eat lunch while you check your favourite blogs and watch your auctions on eBay? Do you have several work projects on the go, spread across your real and virtual desktops? Is it hard to keep track?

 

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Social media make it easy to create controversy, but smart practices can limit the risk

Technology usually helps us function by making daily tasks easier, safer, more efficient, and so on. But sometimes a technology comes along that doesn’t simply improve the way we do something, it actually creates a new type of behaviour. I think this is the case with online social networking, which allows individuals to broadcast to mass audiences in a way that wasn’t available in the past. The question remains, however, as to whether this activity makes life any easier! Some have certainly found it just causes them trouble.

 

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Online indiscretions… well, you know the story

We’ve heard a bunch of stories over the past year about companies firing or not hiring employees, or challenging their claims of illness, over inappropriate online behaviour, particularly comments and photos posted on Facebook and other social networking websites. While the media have made a big deal of these cases, none has had the profile of CNN’s recent firing of Middle East correspondent, Octavia Nasr. The US news giant felt Nasr had compromised her credibility by publicly tweeting her respect for a prominent Islamic cleric on his death. The Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah had ties to controversial political action group Hezbollah.

 

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Are your employees surfing the Internet during work hours?

With the technology at employees’ fingertips, employers worry about whether their employees are engaging in personal Internet use during work hours.

 

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