Social Media Employment Law

Read It, Ignore It, Delete It, Or Scoff At It, But Don’t Reply To All

Ok, does it get much more annoying?  You’re finally focusing on your work and having a very productive Monday morning so far.   Then you get that familiar “bing” – the 82nd e-mail of the morning already from 1 of 25 addressees on a prior e-mail, who responds “I agree” or “LOL!” or “Yes, Jon, let’s set that up” (and, oh by the way, you’re not Jon).  

Then, everyone else on the e-mail uses Reply to All to ask everyone else to quit using Reply to All, or “Please take me off this e-mail string.”  And then, people use Reply to All to apologize to everyone for using Reply to All.   And you find yourself reading and deleting for over an hour, and longing for the days when faxes were the newest “nano-second” technology.

It’s a little something called “netiquette”, which Wikipedia defines to include such common characteristics as “misuse of the Reply to All.”   Even Facebook has a dedicated page entitled “Educating Users On Reply To All Button Etiquette.”   Yes, social media is supposed to be easy and informal, and perhaps even provide your company with some benefits.   Still, you find this Reply to All thing to be ANNOYING (proper netiquette also suggests that one refrain from typing excessively in all caps).

But beyond that, it is potentially harmful to your business.   First, a Reply to All risks the disclosure of personal information, or company trade secrets to unwanted recipients, both inside and outside the four walls of your office.   Second, the one-click option of Reply to All makes it easier to send jokes and off-hand comments to others (even unintended) who may not welcome them.   Third, the lack of productivity can be staggering, when your employees are spending countless hours opening, reading, and deleting e-mails that have no relevance to their particular day or responsibilities.

Employer Take Away:   What should you as an employer take away from this development?   

We tend to focus so much on what you say in social media.   However, we also should focus on how you say it and to whom you say it.    Your company should consider training your employees on the appropriate use of e-mail, for example, and communicate the risks not only of saying the wrong thing, but of providing the wrong information to the wrong recipient, and the benefits of limiting electronic communications to those who need to know the message.

Ok, you may now delete.

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