Some employees use their own personal social media accounts on the employer’s behalf. As Eric B. Meyer explains on The Employer Handbook blog, this can cause problems.
Meyer says an employee sued her employer in federal court for accessing and updating her Facebook page and sending out tweets from her Twitter account without permission while she was on leave due to a car accident.
The plaintiff was using her accounts to promote her employer’s business. Still, she alleged violations of the Lanham Act (the company unlawfully passed itself off as her) and the Stored Communications Act, which prohibits intentional, unauthorized access to electronically stored communications.
The company moved for summary judgment, admitting to accessing the accounts but arguing it had permission since the employee stored her passwords on a company server. The employee admitted the company had her passwords but said she made it clear it wasn’t to use the accounts. The district court recently dismissed the Lanham Act claim but let the Stored Communications Act portion go to trial.
Meyer says “if you want an employee to tweet and Facebook for the business, then set up the account yourself, maintain the username and password,” and have the person sign off on the company’s ownership rights.