Recently the social media news has been buzzing with major industry leaders and national organizations restricting social media sites, especially Twitter. Recently ESPN dropped “the hammer” when it comes to employee tweeting. The news broke when Ric Bucher, an NBA analyst for ESPN, said “The hammer just came down, tweeps: ESPN memo prohibiting tweeting info unless it serves ESPN. Kinda figured this was coming.”
Well, what does this mean exactly? A lot of social media giants, like Mashable and NPR, believe ESPN doesn’t understand what social media is all about: building relationships. And many social media advocates are claiming that ESPN is going to negatively affect, if not completely diminish, the relationships that their analysts and reporters have been creating for them if they continue with this policy to restrict what their employees can tweet about.
There is a flip side to this situation that most of these social media stories are missing… these reporters and analysts are in fact employees of the ESPN organization. If these reporters and analysts are representing ESPN while on social media networking sites like Twitter, should ESPN be able to restrict what is said? There are confidentiality policies in employee handbooks for all kinds of organizations; who’s to say that right under that section in your employee handbook soon will be a clause stating what can be said through social media forums. Sure at first this issue may seem to be restricting our personal right to freedom of speech but is that really the issue? Is ESPN really taking away their employees’ freedom of speech and limiting the relationships being built by social media from this policy? Should employers be able to restrict what employees tweet about?
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