#explainittome

September 4, 2014

Re “Legal scholar’s ‘political’ tweets ruffle a few feathers” (News, 21 August). Social media sites tend to have long and complex terms of use and privacy policies that basically state that the sites can commodify all personal data of their users. There is a tendency for organisations to imitate this bureaucratisation of social media and to design social media use policies for their employees. There is a danger that control of social media accounts results in a violation of the freedom of information and speech and that control is exercised against those who voice critical opinions.

A simple rule that should be applied here is that individual users using individual accounts are liable for what they say, and not the organisations for which they work. It is different if it is a profile that represents a department, a faculty or a university.

A related problem that has resulted in conflicts is who owns a Twitter account that somebody uses in a professional role – the employee or the organisation? And what happens to it if the person leaves the organisation and starts working for another one?

Again, a simple rule can help. If it is an organisational profile – such as the one of a faculty or a department – then the organisation owns the account. If it is an individual employee, then he or she owns it.

In most cases, employees have better ideas on how to use and regulate social media than the management of organisations. Management ought perhaps to simply ask employees what are the best practices and rules for social media use.

Christian Fuchs
Professor of social media
University of Westminster

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Tef, results, gold, silver, bronze, teaching excellence framework

The results of the 2017 teaching excellence framework in full. Find out which universities were awarded gold, silver or bronze