Employers Should Get a Handle on Twitter and Linked in Accounts by Addressing Them in Social Media Policies
This report relates to 2 case(s)
Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor
With the use of social networking sites and social media on the rise as a marketing tool to promote businesses and build clients and relationships, recent cases illustrate that it is important to implement workplace policies regarding ownership of social media accounts such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus that are established for business purposes. In particular, the cases review the critical question of who owns a social networking account and content when the account is opened and utilized by the employee to carry out the employer's marketing, business, and networking objectives. The cases suggest that an employer who unlawfully accesses a former employee's social media account could face claims for invasion of privacy as well as misappropriation.
In Eagle v. Morgan, +2013 U.S. Dist. Lexis 34220 (E.D. Pa.), Edcomm president Dr. Linda Eagle was encouraged to establish a LinkedIn account to promote Edcomm's banking services and build social and professional relationships. However, Edcomm lacked a policy advising employees that LinkedIn accounts were Edcomm property. In order to assist her in managing her online presence, Eagle shared her LinkedIn credentials with her subordinates. Shortly thereafter when Eagle was terminated as a result of a change in corporate control, Edcomm employees were ordered to change the password for Eagle's account and prevent her from accessing it. Further, Edcomm revised the account to display the photo and personal information of Sandy Morgan, Eagle's replacement. However, Edcomm failed to change the LinkedIn page which still contained Eagle's name in the URL, still displayed Eagle's honors and awards, and still linked to approximately 4,000 of Eagle's professional contacts. After approximately 16 days, LinkedIn took over the account from Edcomm, and about one month later Eagle regained access to the account. Subsequently, Eagle filed suit against Edcomm and several employees for invasion of privacy and unauthorized use of her LinkedIn account among other claims.