The popularity of Social Media and e-discovery are both at an all time high. According to insidecounsel.com, Americans are spending 1/5 of their time online using social medial sites like Facebook or Twitter. These online platforms have now replaced email as the preferred method of communication. Also, nearly 80% of the Fortune 100 companies are using some form of social networking to market their products and reach customers and build relationships.
Even though there is tremendous value in social media marketing for companies, there is also risk. These ten simple issues we raise will give you something to consider as you map out your company’s social media policies:
Chatting about the company:
Do not allow your employees to discuss sensitive business related content online. It’s risky. If your company is involved in a sensitive deal (or litigation), then giving away any information may cause the deal to bust – or you may hear about it in your court proceedings.
Know the law:
Often companies have attempted to bring information they’ve acquired online, yet the laws concerning social media create new headaches, and many are yet to be developed. Refer to Federal Rules of a Civil Procedure for best practices of e-discovery.
Having an e-discovery auditor is an excellent way to foresee future problems BEFORE they develop (such as an employee who “surfs the net” and loiters on social media sites or “friends” fellow problem co-workers). An auditor will help you address potentially damaging rumors or concerns before they get out of hand.
Social Media Agreement:
In an effort to protect your company’s interests, why not have a signed agreement with employees to limit what they say about he company publicly (online and offline)? “You can’t do that!” you may think. Are you sure? Why not? All company data, and activity within the work “space” may be considered confidential. It’s worth considering.
Its Simply Different From Paper:
Electronic data isn’t the same as paper data. It is untouchable, invisible, yet it’s there. Metadata stores the date, time and other info and can be crucial in proving your case. It can’t be easily shredded or discarded like paper. Know your company devices and develop a data storage and management plan.
Get a 2nd (or 3rd) Opinion:
Make sure you are constantly questioning your legal team about evolving social media policies and cases. As you know, this is a world that is literally changing on a daily basis. You need to make sure you have a team of experts both within and outside your company who you can turn to for advice or guidance at any given time. It’s well worth the investment.
Take It Seriously:
Just because something was written in cyber space, doesn’t mean it is not important or valid. Using a social media platform opens the user to a broad audience. When utilizing social media all employees should be aware of who could be potentially reading their posts. If the employee makes comments in a post or article that could be potentially damaging or used against them or the company in the future, it could spell trouble.
Multiple Electronic Devices:
Devices such as smart phones, tablets, or email accounts all now can be used for social media activities – and can also contain metadata. Previously, access to this info was not always legally (or technically) readily available, but now it can potentially help (or hurt) your case.
New Federal Laws:
We now have laws that allow the use and disclosure of social media e-discovery information and how it can be used in court. Make sure you are familiar with the latest rulings.
Find the Right Partner:
Taking on the task of e-discovery in the new social media world can seem like a monstrous job, but there are firms (such as TERIS) who specialize in this field. We’re happy to provide a no-obligation initial consultation to help you evaluate your current social media e-discovery program and determine what steps you need to protect yourself for future developments.