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

ACCC GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR NEWS CORP TO BUY ARM

NEWS Corporation (ASX: NWS) has been given the green light to acquire Australian Regional Media (ARM) from APN New...

ENTREPRENEUR'S NEW VENTURE SWEET AS 'HONEE'

A MELBOURNE entrepreneur hailing from the food tech scene has launched a new venture to change the face of beauty....

WATER VENTURE TAKES ON THE PLASTIC SCOURGE

DAMIEN Stone has a thirst to build the world's biggest social enterprise in a clean fight against the plastic ...

BUNNINGS BOSS JOHN GILLAM QUITS WESFARMERS

THE man behind Bunnings' home improvement domination has resigned from his role in charge of the retailer.

...

Related News

HOW MCDONALD'S AUSTRALIA REDISCOVERED ITS INNOVATIVE SPIRIT

MCDONALD'S is such a ubiquitous part of the Australian landscape today that it is easy to forget how it change...

JB HI-FI IS THE GOOD GUY IN $870 MILLION ACQUISITION

ELECTRONICS giant JB Hi-Fi has formally completed its $870 million acquisition of home appliance chain The Good Gu...

ACCC ACTS AGAINST MERITON'S RIGGED REVIEWS

MERITON Property Services is under fire from Australia's main consumer watchdog, after it allegedly engaged in mi...

ACCC FIRES WARNING SHOT TO IVF PROVIDERS

IVF clinics have been put on notice by consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC...

Contact us

Email News Update Sign Up Contact Details

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

PO Box 2087
Brisbane QLD 4001

LoginTell a FriendSign Up to Newsletter