A legal perspective on social media twits

Written on the 1 December 2010

JUNE 2010

Given the speed in which information can be broadcast via social media platforms (and potentially to millions of people), users must consider potential legal consequences for posting information online via social media platforms.

Jamie White from law firm Edge Legal says the first court case in Australia dealing with social media posts involved an Adelaide man who was convicted of criminal defamation after posting false and misleading information about a police officer on Facebook.

“The defendant pleaded guilty to criminal defamation and was placed on a two-year, $500 good behaviour bond. The defendant claimed that he did not realise that a person could get in to trouble for things done on the internet,” says White.

The case serves as a strong warning that legal rules are not waived simply because conduct has taken place online.

Politicians, journalists and prison guards have all faced disciplinary action for deemed inappropriate use of social media in the workplace.

Most recently a journalist from The Age newspaper felt the consequences of social media postings. Catherine Deveny was recently terminated from her role with The Age for posting offensive tweets via Twitter during the Logies. She claimed it was ‘just like passing notes in class’.

So should employees be held to the ‘corporate standards’ of their employer with respect to online postings?

“Likely not, unless those standards are clearly stated in documents such as employment contracts and social media policies,” says White.

“Therefore, a prudent employer will ensure that these ‘corporate standards’ are reflected in those documents. This will allow an employer to subject an employee who breaches those ‘corporate standards’ to disciplinary action, including compelling them to remove or edit offending postings, formal warnings or dismissal.”

White advises employers and employees to treat the use of social media in the workplace with caution.

“Employees must familiarise themselves with their employer’s position and be sure not to overstep the mark. The consequences of doing so are real,” he says.


Latest News

STAFF CHURN BLAMED FOR MCGRATH EARNINGS DOWNGRADE

MCGRATH will fail to meet earnings forecasts after some of its star real estate agents defected to growing Perth firm...

MCBAIN RESIGNS AS BELLAMY'S DIRECTOR WHILE THIRD CLASS ACTION MOVES CLOSER TO SECURING FUNDING

LAURA McBain (pictured) has resigned as a director of Bellamy's Organic (ASX: BAL) today, effective immediatel...

REDBUBBLE TO MISS IPO FORECASTS

REDBUBBLE, the online marketplace for independent artists, will miss a series of forecasts set out in its IPO in its ...

BLUESCOPE CONTINUES STRONG RUN WITH GUIDANCE UPGRADE

BLUESCOPE Steel (ASX: BSL) is trading up 7.51 per cent at $11.16 per share after upgrading its half-year guidance thi...

Related News

CARSALES CEO RETIRES AS NEW COMPETITOR COX FINALISES MERGER

CARSALES will have a new CEO as it takes on a fresh challenger to its crown as the dominant online car sales portal i...

BUSINESS CONFIDENCE AT A SIX-YEAR HIGH

SMALL and medium businesses have entered 2017 with their confidence at a six-year high, building on strong gains m...

CONSUMERS PESSIMISTIC ENTERING 2017

CONSUMER confidence remains at its weakest point since April 2016, according to the latest Westpac Melbourne Institut...

RISE OF STARTUP SUPPORT PROGRAMS NOT AS ROSY AT IT SEEMS

ENTREPRENEURIAL cultivation companies in Australia are appearing quickly, but questions have been raised about whe...

Contact us

Email News Update Sign Up Contact Details
Subscriptions

PO Box 2087
Brisbane QLD 4001

LoginTell a FriendSign Up to Newsletter