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Social Media: The Clear and Present Danger

Social Media: The Clear and Present Danger

How employers and employees can safeguard against million dollar lawsuits

Nashville:  October 6, 2011:  Over the past three years, Avant Resources has led the business education field with social media policy guidelines and interactive training for managers and professionals at hundreds of leading companies. In response to the corporate world’s need for more than a policy on a piece of paper, the Nashville-based company has produced an employee training video, Social Media: Risks and Realities.

Seven out of 10 companies surveyed by Avant Resources since 2010 have experienced problems due to social media postings by employees, said employment attorney Brent Ballow, a co-founder and partner in the online company.

"More than a third of those companies say they have taken disciplinary action against employees as a result of their social media use," Ballow said.

"Less than half of companies reported having a written social media policy in place and of those, only 11 percent train employees on the policy,” he said.

"When an employee is disciplined for social media misuse, they are usually surprised," Ballow said. "They simply don't understand that publishing derogatory remarks or confidential information exposes them and their companies to lawsuits and penalties."

Social Media: Risks and Realities is a 24-minute video using current examples from the news, interviews and re-enactments to vividly demonstrate the consequences of uninformed or careless social media use. It also outlines a policy and best practices to avoid social media problems. The training package includes a customizable written social media policy, quiz and attendance certificate. "Our intent is to provide quick, but effective training with verification,” Ballow said. "This helps employers protect their employees and provides the company with an affirmative defense if legal issues should arise."

Other recent research supports Avant Resources' findings. Symantec Corp.'s 2011 Social Media Protection Flash poll examined the costs of social media related incidents at large companies with more than 1,000 employees. Across a sample of 1,200 companies, it found 94 percent reported social media problems which cumulatively totaled more than $4 million in losses.

With the rapid expansion of Google , Facebook's 750 million users and hundreds of millions of users on Linkedin, Twitter and other services, employee access to social media accounts continues to grow.

"Almost every employee has access to a social media account – and that account has the potential to embarrass the company or spark a lawsuit," Ballow said.  “Until companies start treating social media risks as seriously as sexual harassment and discrimination, they’re at needless risk."


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