Social Media and Workplace Policy.

There is a time and a place to discuss issues, which arise in the workplace, and often disgruntled employees take to Facebook to vent their problems. This kind of venting is becoming all too prevalent.

Howard (2008) discourses the hybridity of participatory media, for example a non-institutional (e.g a consumer) comment on an institutional site (e.g. car brand). This is a relatively new kind of communication process, which can result in the challenging of institutional ideas, but inevitably the institution has control over what they publish.

Where do we stand when it comes to commenting on our own social media sites with challenging views and ideas? Some may think that what is said on a Facebook page, set to the highest privacy settings, is indeed private.

Miss Fitzgerald (Fair Work Australia 2010) and Mr O’Keefe (Fair Work Australia 2011) both learnt that what is on Facebook is no longer private. These applicants for unfair dismissal cases where dismissed from their respective workplaces for comments made on their own Facebook pages.

Fitzgerald won her case and was awarded an unfair dismissal but O’Keefe’s case was rejected. Both places of employment did not have a specific social media policy stating what is unacceptable from employees on social media.

The nature of distinguishing between work and home life has become a grey area with the rise in social media. Literacy has evolved to include a type of digital literacy, meaning many are unaware of what is appropriate to post online and where.

It is of my opinion that the introduction of a digital social media policy would lead to the online education of employees.

The final reading for this week was a news article (Hannan 2011) about a now defunct policy that the Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) implemented a number of years ago. It stated that employees of CBA where to notify their manager if they were witness to any form of ‘inappropriate or disparaging content and information..about CBA’ on social media sites.

How were employees expected to control what they saw on social sites about CBA? I think this is a complete violation of self expression, but it is understandable for the bank to be concerned if the employees where to broadcast there own inappropriate or disparaging thoughts about the CBA.

The overall theme for this week dredged up some interesting perspectives from my peers; with many agreeing that what is said on Facebook is no longer indeed private. Therefore to maintain a healthy relationship between employee and employer, it is vital to have a clear workplace policy reflecting this and also to use a little bit of common sense.


Fair Work Australia 2010, Fitzgerald vs Smith Unfair Dismissal, viewed 13 May 2013, <;

Fair Work Australia 2011, O’Keefe vs Good Guys Unfair Dismissal, viewed 13 May 2013, <;

Hannan, E 3011, ‘Bank’s Facebook Sacking Threat’, Weekend Australian, 05 Feb, viewed 13 May, <;

Howard, R 2008, ‘The Vernacular Web of Participatory Media’, Critical Studies in Media and Communication, vol. 25, no.5, pp.490-513, viewed 13 May 2013, <;

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