Category Archives: Social Media/Networking

Labor Law Issues: Employer Social Media Policies; Disciplining Employees for Social Media Postings

Source: Ariana R. Levinson, University of Louisville – Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2015-17, June 8, 2015

From the abstract:
This chapter addresses the increasingly important issue of how the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act) applies to postings by employees on social media. It argues that in large part the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) has correctly applied the age-old concept of protected concerted activity to new technological meeting places. The legal concepts at issue are founded in long-standing precedent. This chapter buttresses the claim that Board regulation of social media policies is consistent with past-practice and precedent by analogy to Board precedent governing employer policies on solicitation and distribution and on the wearing of insignia, which are similar to the social media policies currently being regulated. Despite differences in the use of an electronic meeting place from that of the water cooler, slight changes to the current doctrine, such as a clear explanation of when employees’ activity is for mutual aid and protection, would place the Board on even sounder footing.

The Digital CultureSHIFT: From Scale to Power – How the Internet is Shaping Social Change, and Social Change is Shaping the Internet

Source: Center for Media Justice, ColorofChange.org and Data & Society, August 2015

From the summary:

As activism for police accountability, fair wages, just immigration, and more takes center stage — social justice movements of the 21st century are using technology to achieve greater scale and reach wider audiences. But are these digital strategies building power for long-term social change, or helping maintain the status quo?

A new report from the Center for Media Justice says the answer depends on the strategy — and offers new approaches and recommendations, from a diverse cross-section of leaders, for building effective social movements in an age of big data and digital technology.

Key Takeaways:
The strategies and approaches in the Digital CultureSHIFT report provide a path forward for addressing the way social movements integrate new approaches , or remain stuck in a cycle that limits our effectiveness.

What We Learned:
• 100% of those interviewed said that digital strategies and platforms provide a voice when mainstream media ignores issues.
• The vast majority of leaders interviewed widely use digital platforms to catalyze action, but say over-reliance on these tools can limit relationship-building.
• The Internet is helping to shift national organizations from centralized to decentralized, from geographically specific to geographically diverse, and from hierarchical leadership to multi-level leadership.
• Targeted surveillance is a top concern — but the vast majority of leaders of color interviewed felt that advocacy for digital privacy did not include their voices or their visions for change.

Employers Ban Personal Webmail to Protect Against Cyber Attacks

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Vol. 32 no. 16, August 7, 2015
(subscription required)

Mayer Brown. Latham & Watkins, and WilmerHale. What do these three law firms have in common? They have all recently restricted employee access to Web-based personal e-mail on their systems. As reported by Above The Law, a Web site that shares news and opinions on the legal industry, the trio are just the latest employers to tell employees they can no longer access their Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, and other Web-based e-mail accounts from company computers. …. Employees inadvertently expose their employers to security attacks when they click on infected links or files sent to them through e-mail from unverified sources, despite warnings about the dangers. ….

Status Update: Social Media and Local Government Human Resource Practices

Source: Shannon Howle Tufts, Willow S. Jacobson, and Mattie Sue Stevens, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 35 no. 2, June 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Social media use has quickly become an integral part of people’s personal and professional lives. Although many scholars highlight the benefits of social media for engagement, communication, and outreach, leveraging social media platforms for human resource (HR) practices continues to present interesting questions and challenges. This article examines how municipal and county governments are using social media in recruiting, hiring, monitoring, and disciplining employees. Many local governments are not taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as potential tools for recruitment and screening because of concerns related to liability. The same organizations are conducting workplace monitoring and addressing disciplinary issues around employee social media use, often without guiding policies in place. Based on the findings from this research, recommendations are provided on how and when local government HR departments can more effectively use social media in their practices.

Worker Collective Action in the Digital Age

Source: Jeffrey M. Hirsch, University of North Carolina School of Law, UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2551117, December 25, 2014

From the abstract:
This article explores some of the ways in which employees have used electronic communications to seek better working conditions and argues that this medium will continue to grow in importance. However, several factors currently exist that limit the effectiveness of electronic collective action. In addition to natural limitations on workers’ ability to use electronic media and the effectiveness of those communications, this paper discusses the legal protections that might help to reduce employer resistance to digital collective action. This issue illustrates the Catch-22 of electronic communications: as digital collective action strategies become more accessible and useful, they also become more of a target for employers seeking to thwart employee attempts to improve their working conditions. As described in the article, the legal protections for workplace electronic communications has been in a state of flux. There have been some recent legal gains for employees’ ability to use electronic communications (including the NLRB’s new Purple Communications decision, which is discussed in detail), but those protections still fall short in some areas. As workers’ use of electronic communications becomes more widespread and more effective, the need for legal protection will grow. Yet, pressure from employers to resist an increasingly effective tool for employees will grow as well. How this tension ultimately develops will depend on the ability of legislators, regulators, and judges to balance these competing interests.

How to Email Congress and Make It Count

Source: Chris Nehls, CQ Roll Call, 2014
(subscription required)

…The sheer volume of electronic communications that most offices receive mean that congressional staff place a priority on efficiently sorting and prioritizing incoming messages. How much email does Congress get? The Senate received almost 143 million communiqués through Oct. 21 of this year, and the House received roughly the same amount through September, according to officials in both chambers. In the Senate, that’s more than eight emails for every one incoming phone call. But despite the volume, it is still possible to initiate two-way email dialog with Congressional offices, by understanding how they process communications and using a few techniques to insure you are taken seriously. While staffers rarely speak publicly about how email is parsed and addressed inside the Congress, CQ Roll Call spoke privately to sources, including those still working on Capitol Hill and former staffers, in order to compile some strategies that can help insure that your email—and your message—has a fighting chance. ….

Social Networking, Management Responsibilities, and Employee Rights: The Evolving Role of Social Networking in Employment Decisions

Source: Steven L. Thomas, Philip C. Rothschild, Caroline Donegan, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Online First, September 11, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the past decade, social networking sites (SNSs) have transformed the way people socialize. They allow individuals to connect globally and instantaneously. These connections, however, generate user profiles that provide an abundance of personal and behavioral information that can be used as a management tool in the selection process and as a way to monitor potentially detrimental employee activities. Employers can, with relative ease and low cost, access information that would not have been otherwise available. Because employees use and view SNSs in markedly different ways than employers view and use them, these conflicting perspectives and different interests pose serious issues as SNSs continue to grow. Regulations typically lag technology, and research regarding SNSs is limited. Thus, while there is clear potential for using SNSs as human resource tools, there are few legal guidelines controlling their use, little knowledge of their effectiveness, considerable disagreement over privacy and ethical issues, and some potential for abuse. Consequently, proponents and opponents continue to debate the legal, ethical, and practical issues of using SNSs in both staffing and employee monitoring processes. This paper examines these issues and provides guidelines on how managers should use SNSs in managerial decision making.
Related:
Use of Social Networking Websites on Applicants’ Privacy
Source: Stephanie L. Black, Dianna L. Stone, Andrew F. Johnson, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Online First, July 20, 2014

Class In-Formation: The Intersection of Old and New Media in Contemporary Urban Social Movements

Source: Peter Nikolaus Funke & Todd Wolfson, Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, Volume 13, Issue 3, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This starts out by distinguishing between communication and communication mediums when examining social movement-powered formations of collective identity and collective action. We then focus on communication mediums to examine the different ways that old and new media are utilized in urban social movements under neoliberal capitalism. Based on shifts in the political economy and correspondingly in the contemporary composition of the working class, we focus on the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia to argue that contemporary urban social movements and networks utilize a multi-media platform to further class-based politics. The respective use of old or new media depends on important contextual questions, regarding technology access and geographic aspects of movement building work.

Technology–Task Coupling: Exploring Social Media Use and Managerial Perceptions of E-Government

Source: Mary K. Feeney, Eric W. Welch, American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print August 20, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Social media comprises a set of new technologies that enable richer data exchange in highly decentralized, dynamic, and loosely structured versatile virtual environments. Social media technology is expected to enhance participation, learning, and knowledge production in government settings, aligning traditional structural and authority boundaries while also challenging them. We examine the extent to which local governments in the United States are coupling social media technology with two types of participative tasks: collaborative work inside the organization and participative interaction with external stakeholders. We also explore how these two technology–task couples are associated with managerial perceptions of the positive and negative outcomes of technology use. We use survey data from five departments—community development, finance, police, mayor’s office, and parks and recreation—in 500 U.S. cities. Findings show that social media and their use for specific tasks have limited impact on either positive or negative perceived outcomes. These non-findings may demonstrate that the implementation cost of social media technologies outweighs the managerial benefits they realize; that technology–task applications substitute for traditional approaches to the same task, but no effect is incurred; or that social media technologies are relatively new to local governments, and efforts to effectively utilize them for internal work tasks and external engagement are in their infancy.

A social net? Internet and social media use during unemployment

Source: Miriam Feuls, Christian Fieseler, Anne Suphan, Work Employment & Society, Vol. 28 no. 4, August 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Many people who are unemployed tend to experience forms of psychological and social losses, including a weakened time structure, diminished social contacts, an absence of collective purpose, falling status, and inactivity. This article focuses on the experience of diminished social contacts and addresses whether social media help the unemployed maintain their relationships. Based on qualitative interviews with unemployed individuals, the article identifies various types of social support networks and their impact on individual experiences of inclusion and exclusion. Although the unemployed use social media to cultivate their social support networks, the opportunity to establish new contacts, both private and professional, is underutilized. Thus, social network differentiation between the unemployed and employed persists online in social media.