An employee says an old photo and comment about her on the company Facebook page amounts to defamation. A customer threatens to sue the company over an alleged promise made in a tweet. A worker insists the company’s social media pages he oversaw led to growth and profits he’s entitled to share.
In each case, having archives of social media postings could help the business avoid legal trouble. But many employers think of social media as an online whiteboard, not as a repository of official company documents that must be saved and catalogued.
The problem: Social media content never truly disappears from the consciousness of those who might use it to harm a business.
Think of social media posts as being email messages by other means. While messages from a company email address reside on the company server, social media posts are trickier.
Advice to managers: Work with your information technology department to draft policies and procedures on archiving social media content that is sponsored or supported by the company. Assign posting and retention roles to specific employees, and make sure those people follow these rules:
— Include a statement of record retention on social media sites. Example: “This is the Facebook page for ABC Enterprises. Comments posted on it, and messages received through it, are archived.”
— Document who approved the creation of a social media account, and who owns the rights to material created for and posted through it. Include social media tasks in a job description so when an employee leaves, the tasks stay with that job, not any one person who might claim ownership of followers or original material.
— Never simply delete user comments or fan-generated content. Store the comments or additions in a Word document, capturing as much context as necessary for possible future examination.
— Don’t rely on screen shots as an archiving technique. They produce a picture of content, but not the related functionality, metadata, nor full context.
— Social media archiving is becoming big business — use it. Providers like ArchiveSocial, FreezePage and Recollect have the means to preserve everything that gets posted. Even free apps like Mozilla Firefox’s ArchiveFacebook and SiteSucker for Mac can help. Facebook and Twitter themselves provide steps to download your archives.
Another method: Adjust a social media account’s email settings so notifications of all activity are sent to your inbox.