Social Media and Employment Policies

Social media is now an integral part of many people’s lives, and it is becoming imperative for employers to establish a social media policy. The role of a social media policy is to provide guidance for employees so they can stay out of trouble, and also to provide a firm basis for disciplinary action. People consider their private lives and work lives to be two separate entities – using social media as an outlet for personal thoughts. However, much of the time employees overlook the importance of maintaining a private and professional online identity (Lupardi, 2014). There are an infinite amount of circumstances where employees have been dismissed because of something they’ve posted online – in many cases the dismissal has been appealed and considered unfair, because of never signing a social media policy. For example, three cases by the Fair Work Commission of employee dismissals in relation to social media use are:
Sally-Anne Fitzgerald v Dianna Smith T/A Escape Hair Design—unfair dismissal case, 2010.

Damian O’Keefe v Troy Williams Muir’s Pty Limited T/A The Good Guys—unfair dismissal case, 2011.

Linfox Aust. Pty Ltd v Glen Stutsel–appeal in 2012 against a decision overturning a finding of unfair dismissal.

Faizah Imani from Global Post (2014) states that there are currently no laws that prevent employers from looking through any social media profiles you have. Many companies have monitoring policies that are in place when using their computer or wifi. This aims to prevent employees from posting anything about work on their profiles, and allows employers to monitor browsing history and web use. Monitoring policies are a reasonable tactic to use within the workplace. However, there have been cases of companies threatening employees with disciplinary action, including dismissal, with regard to personal social media use in the home – out of work hours. In 2011, The Commonwealth Bank in Australia insisted that employees must report any criticism of the bank they view on personal social media channels, and then assist with the investigation and removal of the “inappropriate” material. Subsequent to employee complaints and concerns, The Finance Sector Union demanded the bank suspend this social media policy, stating that it was an unfair restriction to individuals’ freedom of expression (Hannan, 2011). Social media culture at this time was relatively new, booming and misunderstood by The Commonwealth Bank – I feel that their social media policy was a desperate act to harness and manage the content posted on social media platforms, which is unfair and naïve. Social media policies are put in place to protect the professional reputation of both the employer and employee, meaning that it should be a fair and reasonable for both parties.
Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 2.03.52 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 2.04.18 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 2.04.36 PMPoor Social Media Choices Lead to Lost Jobs and Scholarships, Storify 2014

If your workplace does not have a policy, a general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t want to see it on the front page of a newspaper with your name, don’t post it. Particularly when seeking employment (or currently employed), it is important to be mindful of the content you post online – simply DON’T post negative things about colleagues or employers. In addition, you never know when a photo you’ve uploaded, or religious/political/sexual comment could offend a potential or current employer. Legally, employers can view your online profiles, and will often use this as a means for a “background check” before hiring new employees (Imani, 2014).

References:

Hannan, E 2011, ‘Bank threatens staff with sack over social media comments’, Australian, 5 February, viewed 10 May 2014, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/bank-threatens-staff-with-sack-over-social-media-comments/story-e6frg6nf-1226000454432&gt;

Imani, F 2014, ‘Can Employers Check Your Facebook profile?’, Global Post, viewed 12 May 2014, <http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/can-employers-check-facebook-profile-1084.html&gt;

Ritter, K 2014, Facing the Consequences: Poor Social Media Choices Lead to Lost Jobs and Scholarships, Storify, weblog post, viewed 12 May 2014, <https://storify.com/Katie_M_Ritter/facing-the-consequences-poor-social-media-choices&gt;

Fair Work Australia 2010, Miss Sally-Anne Fitzgerald v Dianna Smith T/A Escape Hair Design, Fair Work Australia, viewed 15 May 2014 <https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/2010fwa7358.htm&gt;

Fair Work Australia 2011, Damian O’Keefe v Williams Muir’s Pty Limited T/A Troy Williams The Good Guys, Fair Work Australia, viewed 15 May 2014 <https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/2011fwa5311.htm&gt;

Fair Work Australia 2012, Linfox Aust. Pty Ltd v Glen Stutsel, Fair Work Australia, viewed 15 May 2014 <https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/2011fwa8444.htm&gt;

Globalisation and the Media

Globalisation involves two processes that have implications for the media; it is the way technologies are able to conquer global distances – creating a world that seems limitless, and the way that a single economic system, ‘the free market’, now permeates the globe.

“Television… now escorts children across the globe even before they have permission to cross the street” (Meyrowitz, 1985 p238)

The rise of mass television has allowed millions to regularly observe other people and places, anonymously and from afar – blurring the line between public and private behaviours, and weakening the link between physical location and access to social experience. In this sense, television has contributed to the reshaping of social roles regarding age, gender and authority. Television experience also prompts the prevalent use of participatory media, such as the interaction on social networking sites (Meyrowitz, 2009). A journal article by Jinna Tay and Graeme Turner (2008) investigate how the convergence of media platforms is challenging conventional perceptions of how the mass media function. Television is no longer considered a single entity working in the social, political and cultural aspects of media. New media is recontextualising the way we experience television – since the likes of major rating successes such as Big Brother, which incorporated multi-platformed and multimedia events, it is evident that television is no longer a stand-alone medium.

bigbrother-facebook-voting
EG. BigBrother Germany Facebook Voting App – adapting to communication technologies and evolving the TV industry to multiple platforms – leading to new show formats (just as Televoting did in the 90s).   

In Australia, television advertising is plummeting as online advertising booms. As a result, market-specific variations are increasing. Television in the 21st century has had to adapt to a demanding, competitive and technologically convergent environment by targeting consumer groups. Broadcasters utilise reality television programs, as they are suitable for cross-media interactivity – taking advantage of modern communication technologies, in turn allowing industries to experiment with younger demographics. This reformation of television challenges authoritarian-style governments across the globe, as they struggle to maintain control, as there is no longer a single foundation to provide a basis for national conversation (Tay & Turner, 2008).

References:

1. Metzger, MCM 2011, Endemol’s BigBrother launches voting via Facebook Credits, Monty’s Blog, weblog post, 6 july, viewed 16 May 2014,<http://blog.monty.de/2011/07/endemols-bigbrother-launches-voting-via-facebook-credits/&gt;

2. Meyrowitz, J 2009, We Liked to Watch: Television as Progenitor of the Surveillance Society, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 625, pp. 32-48.

3. Meyrowitz, J 1985, No sense of place: the impact of electronic media on social behaviour, Oxford University Press, New York

4. Tay, J & Turner, G 2008, What is Television: Comparing Media Systems in the Post-broadcast Era, Media International Australia, no. 126, pp71-81

Social Media & Activism: The Arab Spring

Warning: potential unsettling content and imagery

The Arab Spring is a term expressing the revolutionary movements in 2010, which began in the Arab region. What made the Arab Spring so distinctive was the utilisation of social media to promote uprising agendas, as these were the first collective movements in the Middle East since Internet and social media revolutions. Western perceptions of the Arab Spring surround ideas of social media being the driving force. However, the initial trigger for the protests was in 2010, when authorities shut down Mohamed Bouazizi’s business and physically harassed him. As a result he lit himself on fire in front of a Tunisian government building, a form of protest or sacrifice known as “self-immolation”. This sparked immediate uprisings in Tunisia, and then spread to many other countries in the region.

mohamed-bouazizi-tunisie
A journal article by Richard Lindsey (2013) explores the significance of social media during the Arab Spring, allowing individuals to influence public opinion and gain international support through the global distribution of news. Lindsey assures that techniques and procedures via social media will affect future revolutionary tactics in globalised societies, however the degree to which is questionable. Research by Wolfsfeld, Segev and Sheafer (2013) uses the Arab Spring as a case study to define the role of social media within a more general theoretical structure. The study examines two theoretical principles; that we cannot comprehend the function of social media without considering the political environment in which they operate, and that an increase in social media doesn’t necessarily prompt significant events – but follows them.

women arab spring

Newsom and Lengel (2012) investigate the use of social networks by Arab feminist activists. The online engagement was intended to aid social change, and assisting to remove the psychological barrier of fear for Arab civilians by connecting and sharing information. The consistent flow of news provided a sense of reassurance that they are not alone, and that there are others experiencing hardship, prejudice, and similar accounts of brutality. Professor of mass communications from Cairo, Hussein Amin, stated that social networks ‘for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restrictions’ (Kassim, 2012). It is important to understand that social networking platforms were not the reason for the Arab Spring but function as a significant communication tool, at present and for future revolutions.

References:

Kassim, S 2012, Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring was helped by social media, PolicyMic, weblog post, 3 July, viewed 8 May 2014, <http://www.policymic.com/articles/10642/twitter-revolution-how-the-arab-spring-was-helped-by-social-media&gt;

Lindsey, RA 2013, ‘What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary Movements’, Small Wars Journal, vol. 9, no. 7

Newsom, V & Lengel, L 2012, ‘Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyze gender and online activism’,Journal of International Women’s Studies, vol. 13, no. 5, pp31-45

Wolfsfeld, G, Segev, E, Sheafer, T 2013, ‘Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First’, The International Journal of Press/Politics, vol. 18, no. 2, pp115-137

The Future of Journalism

The line between conventional journalists and their audiences seems to be blurring. Participatory culture has added a whole new dimension to journalism and the way information circulates, challenging traditional boundaries and definitions of professional institutions. Docile journalists are attached to the time-honoured social functions within these institutions, by having the “gatekeeper of information” status and authority. The what, when and how of transmitting news to the public, has until recently always been maintained and enforced by conventional routines. Access/observation, selection/filtering, processing/editing, distribution and interpretation of content, are the five routines of communication that are no longer restricted by a gatekeeper (Domingo et. al., 2008, p326).

Audiences are now involved in the circulation of news more than ever before, purely due to the fact that we’ve been provided with the ability to do so. Hello modern technology. Major news corporations are in the midst of a power-struggle, between their traditional practices and the abundance of social networking platforms. This ubiquitous battle, in my opinion, can only mean one thing – the public WANT to be able to participate, and finally, they can. This doesn’t have to mean a great shift in control, but an opportunity to consider the varying perspectives, ideas and reflections of society. How can one decipher exactly what, when and how the public want to know something, without involving them in the process? Contemporary critics base their argument surrounding this precise notion. Journalist Risto Kunelius believes that news should be more like a conversation rather than a lecture (2001). Since the emergence of social networks, many traditional institutions have resisted complying with this participatory culture. However this is slowly changing, with corporations recognising the potential of audience interaction, they are beginning to utilise participatory methods in some ways. Stemming from the popularity of talk shows and community-engaging program formats, more and more newsrooms are incorporating social media platforms such as Twitter. Informative television programs, such as ABC’s Q&A and SBS Insight, function more like a discussion. While the information and stories remain mediated, there is still a sense of authenticity because of the conversation-like structure. Online, a majority of institutions haven’t fully utilised the tools of citizen media, however, have enabled some features within their news stories including ranking, sharing, commenting, and forum threads. While this is still restrictive to exactly what is being reported, it aims to encourage collective discussions and criticisms in a controlled environment (Domingo et. al., 2008, p334).

This video is a collaboration of television programs, events, and news desks that are using social media (Twitter) to create an ongoing relationship with viewers.

 

 

References:

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, JB & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘PARTICIPATORY JOURNALISM PRACTICES IN THE MEDIA AND BEYOND: An international comparative study of initiatives in online newspapers’, Journalism Practice, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 326-342.

Kunelius, R 2001, ‘Conversation: a metaphor and a method for better journalism?’, Journalism Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 31-54.

Twitter, 2011, The Best of Twitter TV, online video, 2 May, YouTube, viewed 3 April 2014 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc8TQppzORE>

Social Media – A Revolutionary Tool

The Arab Spring is a term expressing the revolutionary movements in 2010, which began in the Arab region. What made the Arab Spring so unique was the utilisation of social media to establish and promote uprising agendas, as these were the first collective movements in the Middle East since Internet and social media revolutions. A journal article by Richard Lindsey explores the significance of social media during the Arab Spring, allowing individuals to influence public opinion and gain international support through the global distribution of news. Lindsey assures that techniques and procedures via social media will affect future revolutionary tactics in globalised societies, however the degree to which is questionable.

Sharing mass amounts of uncensored and accurate information through social networking significantly prompted the rise in Arab Spring activists. Not only did they obtain supremacy to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also Arab civilians were now conscious of underground communities whom they can connect with. This may have not been possible without the significant role social media played, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests… Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” – Arab Spring activist from Egypt. Stories of shared grievances and hopelessness was overflowing over these networks. The use of digital storytelling through social media is what drew people into the streets to protest.

ArabSpring-Tweeter

Image source

A blog post on PolicyMic describes the use of social networks as assisting to remove the psychological barrier of fear for Arab civilians by connecting and sharing information. The consistent flow of news provided a sense of reassurance that they are not alone, and that there are others experiencing hardship, prejudice, and similar accounts of brutality. Professor of mass communications from Cairo, Hussein Amin, stated that social networks “for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restrictions”. It is worthy to note that new social networking platforms were not the reason for the Arab Spring but function in serving future revolutions with regard to communication.

The Significance of Social Media

Interaction is a significant aspect of human culture. An article by Mike Laurie investigates the different ways social media has changed us. Over time many different forms of communication have evolved. From inconvenient, labour intensive technologies such as Morse code and carrier pigeons, to instantaneous connections through wireless devices. Rather than posting a letter or buying a newspaper we are now able to share, produce, and circulate endless amounts of information in simple and effective ways.

Skeptics consider social networking to be straining society with regard to social etiquette and identity. However, I would deem these to be issues within the media as a whole and not just social media. Consider a teenage girl reading a magazine – the collaboration of articles and images would produce something to the effect of: “Wear this. Wear that. Act like this around boys. If you’re thin and pretty you will be happy and popular”. In this sense, the consumer only has the option to do just that – consume. And while these same messages may be sprawled across the Internet, we are no longer lazy consumers of passive messages – we are active participants. Social media is about being connected, engaging with old friends and creating new experiences. Instead of being limited to the information in a 25-page magazine, we can now explore what feels like infinite amounts of content. Laurie describes time before the Internet to be when limitations of learning existed due to poor literacy and lack of access to books. If “knowledge is power” and you have access to continuous information distribution, your desire for knowledge is legitimately within fingertips.

iphone-and-social-media-icons

Image souce

An article By David Wallace outlines the statistics with regard to the influence social media has had beyond the notion of socialising. Employment, news, law enforcement, education, political participation, economy, music industries and marketing systems have all been prompted and enhanced through social media. A report by PEW suggested that social networks have encouraged younger generations to be more involved in political issues, a fine example of society being more interested and informed with the world around us.

Through citizen journalism comes the rise of “gatewatchers”, where user-generated content flows freely among platforms. Axel Bruns (2003) states that social networks fabricate participant communities through various understandings and interpretations. Bruns states that blogging should be recognised as a significant form of journalism. Online gatewatchers may actually compliment the mainstream journalism industry through the diversity of discussion and debate, no longer being limited by the “gatekeeper”.

Below Property Line

Copyright is a big issue, especially since the rapid evolution of social media. Put simply, the most efficient way to avoid your intellectual property being appropriated online is to not upload it at all. While there are “safe” ways to share content, a lot of people just don’t do it. Typically, people don’t tend to feel they are doing something illegal if it is through their computer screen. There is no personal connection or affiliation with who you are “stealing” from. A couple of clicks and you are instantly breaching copyright laws. Piracy is a big one – while artists and large corporations missing out on millions from content they have created, there is little they can do to stop it. There is this general consensus of “if it’s on the internet it’s fair game” but really, it isn’t fair at all. You are legally responsible for all content you post or share online. Without crediting the original source or obtaining permission, you face the consequences.

Sharing someone else’s work online safely is when you only share from the original source. For instance, using the retweet button on Twitter. Sites such Facebook and Tumblr have “share” and “reblog” buttons for this purpose, but often users copy the content and post it without sharing directly from the source. This is a common example of somebody breaching copyright laws.

“A large, diverse society cannot survive without property; a large, diverse, and modern society cannot flourish without intellectual property.” – Lawrence Lessig

This quote from Lessig’s book Free Culture points out the importance of intellectual property. While copyright laws restrict the ways in which we can use previous creators’ work, it can stimulate individuals to generate new ideas. However, it is difficult to come up with something new. Most things we think of will have been done already in various ways. Subsequently, Lessig states that free cultures allow space for others to build upon, however with regard to increasing authorisations we are steering away from this. For example YouTube cases of people lip syncing/dancing to music, creating fandom etc are being sued for copyright infringement. It seems silly; as a lot of these cases include songs by popular artists that most people could identify without a reference. On the other hand, if the boundaries weren’t there I think prosumers would definitely take advantage of it even more than they do already.

The Network Society

The Internet has altered the way we work, socialise, create and share information. This transformation of social networking does not get the recognition it deserves. There’s been this massive transition in our lives, transitioning to a digital culture and economy.

In a 2011 report, Mckinsey Global Institute stated that in the past 5 years, the Internet accounted for 21 per cent of the GDP growth in mature economies. This technological revolution has assisted large enterprises and national economies, individual consumers and upstart entrepreneurs. Facebook and other social media sites have been some of the utmost beneficiaries from the powerful influence of the Internet – businesses can now interact with their consumers on a personal level. From a few thousand students accessing Facebook to over 1 billion global users today, Manyika and Roxburgh from the Mckinsey Global Institute stated that ‘If Internet were a sector, it would have a greater weight in GDP than agriculture or utilities’. The development and evolution of the Internet has been described as a ‘healthy Internet ecosystem’, boosting infrastructure, accessibility, and a competitive environment. This prompts innovators and entrepreneurs to flourish, nurturing human capital and in turn maximizing the ongoing affect of the Internet on prosperity and economic growth.

The vast opportunities we are provided with are being embraced and embedded into our lifestyle and culture, and it is truly amazing to be a part of it. We create, define and expand this online ecosystem at an astonishing rate. Communication is the foundation of our society, culture, humanity and identities.

‘Consisting of transactions, relationships and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live… We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth…We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity’ – John Perry Barlow

I loved one of this week’s readings, ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’. Above are my favourite excerpts, which outline the online world we are (or choose to be) a part of. I found it interesting when he says (repeatedly) about our physical bodies not living in cyberspace. I loved how he separated an individual’s physical characteristics with cyberspace, presented in this sense that you are entering a utopian world.

References:

Barlow, JP 1996, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Davos Switzerland, viewed 18/08/2013,
<https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html

Dyson, E, Gilder, G, Keyworth, G & Toffler, A 1994, Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age, The Progress & Freedom Foundation, viewed 18/08/2013,
<http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/futureinsights/fi1.2magnacarta.html

Kelly, K 1999, New Rules for the New Economy, Kevin Kelly, viewed 18/08/2013,
< http://www.kk.org/newrules/newrules-intro.html

Manrika, J & Roxburgh, C 2011, The great transformer: The impact of the Internet on economic growth and prosperity, Mckinsey Global Institute, viewed 18/08/2013, <http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_great_transformer

You’re being watched

In the short time that social media has been around, the one consistent thing I have observed is that a great deal of people forget they are being watched. In a High Talk blog post, George F Snell III states that the line between public and private is now less defined than ever. Snell raises some points, which to me seems as standard Internet etiquette (studying media and communication helps I guess), however I’ve noticed it isn’t so obvious to some. Snell’s 5 guidelines in his post were ‘be polite, transparent, discrete, trustworthy and admit your mistakes’. Once I read that I realised that the majority of my Facebook friends definitely forget that what they post is not private. For example somebody “privately” chatting on Facebook IM and the other person decides to screenshot and share their conversation. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time this is entertaining, but what everyone forgets is that we are constantly under surveillance. In some cases, people actually lose their jobs because of something they have posted/been tagged in on Facebook. I often see and hear this happen, and am not surprised by it. I’ve always felt that social media platforms should not be treated as a private space.

Before Facebook and Twitter even existed, there were chat rooms. And the thing my parents said over and over and over (as they could not keep me from using them) was ‘Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t tell anyone your real name, where you’re from, don’t put your birth date in your email address…’ the list goes on. Made complete sense then, nobody wants a stalker. However, today we openly let people stalk us online. Facebook has asked me all this information about my life from my name, to my favourite food and TV show, to what song I’m currently listening to. Not to worry, even if you don’t fill in these details, everyone on Facebook can see where you are if your location service is enabled on your phone. Now this, I feel, is utterly absurd. With relation to media and youth, an article by Sonia Livingstone explores the way media fosters youth culture through both form and content. Livingstone states that young people use the media precisely to discover and transgress established norms of public and private space. However, they are often naive to the power of the media subtly positioning them according to consumerist pleasures and powerful interests. Through content, they directly address the concerns, interests and experiences of youth. Through their forms, they can provide personalised media goods that determine the space of young online identities. Subsequently, the media repositions young people in relation to public and private spheres, casting them as both citizens and consumers for the future.

A friend once told me “never put anything in writing” and I have applied this both online and offline. People creating controversy, losing friends and even becoming unemployed because of the untasteful way they act online. My message to these people would be if you don’t want anyone knowing, don’t talk about it, anywhere. There is no such thing as privacy in cyberspace. This also goes for businesses who create social media pages – it is crucial to treat every interaction as a public one. We need to remember that everybody is a reporter now. Snell explained this brilliantly (with regard to “private” interactions), ‘the disgruntled customer might have 5,000 followers on Twitter. The waitress serving you while you discuss your company’s top-secret new product could be an avid blogger’ etc. Social media platforms are tools, use them wisely and they can work to your advantage, but one wrong move and you’ll unwillingly create an everlasting poor reputation. But hey, no pressure.

References:

Livingstone, S 2005, ‘Mediating the public/private boundary at home: children’s use of the internet for privacy and participation’, London: LSE Research Online, viewed 11/08/2013, <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/506/1/JMP_6(1).pdf

Snell, GF 2009, 5 Guidelines for Public vs. Private in Social Media, High Talk, weblog post, 23 March, viewed 11/08/2013, <http://hightalk.net/2009/03/23/5-guidelines-for-public-vs-private-in-social-media/