In contemporary society, social networking has become an indispensable part of life due to its innumerable benefits in the areas of communication, research, and improvement of workplace productivity. Its effectiveness has led to its embracement as part of the communication strategy used in different workplaces. However, overreliance on it has prompted several organizations to establish policies regarding its use by employees. Despite its effectiveness, social media has been criticized mainly because of the ethical issues associated with its use in the workplace. Ethical issues associated with social media at the workplace include improper anonymity, breach of individual privacy, misuse of work time and company resources, disclosure of an organization’s confidential information, harassment, and conflict of interest (Vinjamuri par. 5).
An important ethical issue to consider is the misuse of work time and company resources. Many employees spend a lot of time on social networking sites that they compromise their productivity and performance (Vinjamuri par. 4). This is unfair and unethical because such activities are supposed to be conducted during off hours when they are not working. Misuse of company resources is also common an unethical. Using a company’s email address, logo, trademarks, and other important features could lead to infringement of the company’s control over its copyright material and important assets. It is necessary for companies to restrict the use of social media among employees in order to ensure the proper use of time and resources (Maltby par. 6).
Disclosure of a company’s confidential information is a critical ethical issue associated with the use of social media in the workplace. Employees could disclose their company’s information to other organizations or competitors thus risking its operations (Maltby par. 7). In addition, such disclosure could affect its competitiveness in the market and provide competitors with information that they can use to initiate its downfall. Use of social media in the workplace constitutes conflict of interest because employees sue the company’s time to do private stuff.
The most critical ethical issue with regard to social media in the workplace is privacy. Social media could be used to share private information belonging to an employee, employer, customer, or supplier (Maltby par. 9). This is unethical because it is done without the consent of the individual whose information is disseminated illegally and it violates the company’s code of ethics. Breach of privacy could also lead to access to a company’s private information that is critical to its operations (Vinjamuri par. 6). Another issue related to privacy is harassment and defamation. This usually happens among through dissemination of discriminatory comments, defamation claims, and hostile responses. This is possible because of the ability to comment and post messages anonymously.
It is important to put workplace guidelines in place in order to deal with the aforementioned issues. Companies should prohibit sharing of confidential information, use of discriminatory statements in social networking sites, and discussions involving internal affairs that are related to employees, clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders (Maltby par. 10). Companies should illegalize the use of social media during working hours and also implement ways of monitoring employees’ use of social media (Maltby par. 13). Employees should not be allowed to access social media using the company’s resources or during their working hours. This will ensure that they use time and resources wisely. Alternatively, companies could ban the use of social media at work for personal reasons. Social networking should be allowed for beneficial purposes such as marketing and advertisement.
Maltby, Lewis. Should Companies Monitor their Employee’ Social Media? 2014. Web.
Vinjamuri, David. Ethics and the Five Deadly Sins of Social Media. 2011. Web.