‘Professional suicide’: social networking’s risky business

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Are you aware of the potentially catastrophic legal hazards that come hand in hand with your businesses’ use of social media? If not, you may be committing “professional suicide”.

Social media continues to develop as a key communication tool for business, yet the medium is littered with potentially catastrophic legal hazards that aren’t widely understood.

Every day, as hundreds of large and small businesses join social media networks, many are blind to the potential legal pitfalls of copyright law and intellectual property, and left wide open in the most public forums for defamation.

A recent seminar held at Queensland’s Bond University, Social Media and the Legal Pitfalls for PR and Communications Today, focused on developing the working legal knowledge in the corporate communications workplace to minimise risk, identify potential legal hazards and when to call for specialist advice.

Keynote speaker Dr Jane Johnston said that it is crucial that the legal pitfalls of the ever-growing social network are understood.

“These days hashtags can easily become ‘bashtags’ and Twitter followers can become stalkers,” she explained, adding that it has never been more important for the legal pitfalls that may be faced through the use of the medium to be understood.

It’s vital to know “when the legal alarm bells are ringing” she added, noting that key principles to be aware of include:

  • how to brief lawyers when the need arises; and
  • how to  have a solid working knowledge of the appropriate legal systems, policies and processes.

Johnston added that in this day and age “when legal proceedings can begin at the drop of a hat”, it’s imperative to have a working legal knowledge of the pitfalls surrounding social media.

“Social media is only going to increasingly become a key communication tool,” she said, adding that not having the required knowledge “is nothing short of professional suicide”.

More stories:

Three vital steps for social media reputational risk management

The rise of Apple: Employees may hold your downfall in the palm of their hand

Social media: monitoring reputational risks

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