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Defining "Inappropriate" Facebook Behaviour

That’s quite the bit of Facebook shenanigans going on on the other side of the Prime Meridian.

Thirteen Virgin Atlantic Airlines employees in England have been fired for making fun of the airline on a Facebook group they had set up. Joking remarks about the safety and cleanliness of Virgin’s planes, plus mocking some of its some of its customers as “Chavs” (the British equivalent of “white trash”) were enough to get the motley crew their walking papers.
It’s not quite as idiotic as the guy in Australia who called in sick and then boasted in his Facebook status that he was skipping work, which his boss then found, but it comes close.

The firings once again bring up the debate about what employees should be allowed to say about their companies on social networks. Most PR professionals have a pretty good idea of what not to post on Facebook, but their companies-or clients-may have a different idea.

Furthermore, if a client’s employees don’t understand what’s inappropriate for them to say on Facebook, the results could undermine any PR campaign you’ve put in place.

It makes sense now to formalize what is acceptable content on employees’ personal pages. Incidents like the one at Virgin Atlantic just give social media shy organizations more reason to ban social networks, as many already have.

A formal social media policy should clearly state how the company’s name and logo can and cannot be used on social networks.

It should also say that employees will not participate in any online activity that directly causes a negative image of the company.

Which brings us to the problem of defining exactly what constitutes inappropriate social network behaviour.

Does your organization or clients have a formal social network policy in place?

If not, what makes for inappropriate content and what is acceptable content?

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