People use social media for personal as well as business purposes. The ease of use and ability to remain in contact with large groups of people, as well as upload pictures, movies and other content, make it a rapidly growing method of communication.
The line between permissible reviewing of business social media, as opposed to impermissible restriction of personal freedom of expression is not always clear. There is concern and potential risk for the mortgage company. How do you walk this narrow line? There is a need for reviews, yet respect the privacy of your employees.
There is no expectation of privacy for an employee’s corporate e-mail account. The company may, and actually should, review e-mail usage to determine compliance with policies and regulations. However, a personal letter being delivered to the employee by the USPS at work is not subject to scrutiny. The employee has an expectation of privacy. The same is true to usage of the company’s phone lines as compared to a personal cell phone, or his desk in the office as compared to a desk at home. How does this apply with social media?
The difference lies in the manner of the communication. Social media, by definition, is “social.” It is published to a wide audience and intended to be viewed by many people, some of whom are not known to the publisher (poster). However, if a site were only accessible by a select group with log-in rights, then this could be deemed “non-social” social media with an expectation of privacy.
The issue as to business or private social media must be viewed and determined by the intention of the one posting the content. Here are a few thoughts when making this determination:
1. Is the site freely accessible to the public with no restrictions?
2. Is substantial information regarding the employer posted?
3. Is the amount of employer information greatly more than personal, or is it an afterthought or small amount? (For example, I work at ClixMortgage. Or I am a loan officer at ClixMortgage and here are updated rates.)
4. Is this site referenced by the employee on other material such as Web sites, business cards, e-mail signatures?
Just because an employee states that he/she has a “personal” Facebook account does not let compliance off the hook. There needs to be a determination that personal activities are conducted and not business. This is not always clear, but a determination must be made by the company.
Michael J. Wallace Esq. is president of CLIX MG. AcuClix is a Web-based software solution that provides a company with the ability to comply with FFIEC Guidelines to manage, review, report and inspect the usage of social media by its loan officers. For a free White Paper on social media and managing risk, visit www.acuclix.com. Michael may be reached by phone at (727) 474-0961 or e-mail [email protected]