25 Oct 2010
By Krishna Rajendram

Being (Social) Media Savvy


Who would have thought a candid comment to a closed group of friends on Facebook could land you in trouble – especially when the people you were talking about had no access to your Facebook profile? Richmond AFL footballer Daniel Jackson didn’t think so, and neither did I.

On my Facebook profile I made references to a particular organisation’s turnover of staff. Specifically, I queried how long new employees in this organisation would last. There was no malicious intent; it was just my point of view. At the time I thought it was funny. At the time I thought it was no different from an open discussion I would have with ‘my mates’ over drinks. At the time I thought it was private. I was naïve. I was wrong.

Whilst social media websites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are largely used as forms of self-expression, I have come to agree with Brett Hutchens’ view that social media is now considered to “fall into the category of public comment and [online comments] can have the same consequences as comments in any other form of media”.  Olympic champion, Stephanie Rice recently learned this hard reality.

There are several documented cases where others have fallen foul of their employers by making unsavoury comments in online forums. And in many of those cases, employers have sought to stretch existing policies, like ‘Codes of Conduct’, to cover comments made by staff (outside of work hours) in online forums. There is still legal debate on whether these policies can be extended to cover personal activity, especially when the activity is outside of ‘working hours’. Therefore as a new employee (June 2010), I was impressed that Telstra had initiated a policy to firmly outline its position on the use of social media.

The 3Rs Policy eliminates doubt and reminds staff on how they should conduct themselves online. Importantly, this policy reminds staff how to represent the company and themselves. It is reassuring to note that like Telstra, other companies have pro-actively created social media policies because they too are interested in not only protecting the company, but also their employees.

Social Media SavvyThe concepts underpinning the 3Rs are not new: to represent, to respect and to take responsibility. Many of us have had these principles instilled in us from an early age and many of us are also successful in applying these concepts. However, we just need to remember to translate these same principles as we integrate social media into our own working and personal lives.

Is there a place for social media policies, and what elements should a good social media policy contain?

In the interests of public debate, do you believe that social media policies should be enforceable by companies?

More information:

3Rs social media learning module


Posts: 1


  1. Larry Sixsmith (Telstra employee) says:

    Great blog there Krishna, while I have done the 3Rs course on line I have to say it was all common sense. Social Media is purley another forum of communication and should be treated as a public conversation/comment. If you have to think twice about what you are placing in public then you probably should not be writing it. As for media policies being enforced by companies, for sure there needs to be some form of governing however the companies should not prevent the freedom of speech. When you mentioned the high staff turn over in a company you were probably being factual, at least I hope so, therefore the company should take that as a weakness and work on it. There must be a reason for high turn over. Some times the truth hurts. In addition, two weeks ago I asked a friend to stop putting sarcastic and degrading “all in so called humour” comments on my Facebook. He replied by saying stop being so sensitive and get a sense of humour. If these were face to face comments in the work place it could be classified as bullying and if asked to stop, you stop. So on this, if you treat social media as you would face to face and have a conscience all will be ok.

  2. Michael Andrews says:


    “Keep your personal life and business separate”.

    Kind regards,

    Big Red

  3. Denis says:

    Great blog Krish, What do i say but there are so many questions left unanswered, such as , Is this the extent big brother has had to go to? When do you get a personal life away from work if you are governed by policies implied by work and when can you just rant and rave about anything and everything without the consequence of being reprimanded by work because “Someone” took offence to what you said on which forum or a thought is misconstrewed into something more serious when it was simply tongue in cheek. I feel for those who are being prosecuted for being them selves but on a social media website.

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