Friendly fired? Social media policies gone wrong

Associated Press in the US have been in the news this week after announcing a new social media policy to staff. The policy was designed to clarify what was expected of staff in their personal lives on social networks, such as Facebook, and wanted a number of fairly draconian restrictions on staff - measures such as prohibiting them from discussing anything about AP, or from holding a public political affiliation. But the one which stuck most with staff was the requirement to monitor what their friends were writing on their profiles, and to delete anything that might 'violate AP standards' - in other words, you're responsible for your friends as well as yourself.

Kevin Keane, of the AP staff union, the News Media Guild, said "It is making some people cringe. It is not appropriate for a company that heralds free speech".

Companies obviously have legitimate concerns around conduct online - stopping  confidentiality breaches or bringing the organisation into disrepute, and the best way to approach this is in negotiating a realistic and fair policy with staff, but AP seem to have stepped several paces over the mark. If you're concerned about what you write on social networking, and how it could affect you at work, have a look at our social media at work section for information and advice.