Do you know your company's social media policy? Could posting a link to a news article about your company get you fired? Does your company FORCE you to use your personal social media, yet their policy implies it's voluntary but if you do use it, then you consent to them using your password to inspect your personal things? You may want to find out.

In February 2011, Freedom Communications handed out a new social media policy for their employees to sign. Along with what you would consider the "usual," it also included some interesting stuff. All employees MUST sign the policy.

Now, the reason I am interested in this is that my girlfriend works for Freedom Communications, though her newspaper was just sold to Trust 2100 as part of a group of papers, including the Colorado Gazette and the Orange County Register.

I don't disagree with their policy, per se. It's their company; they do what they want.

Her problem is that she updates the websites for 4 newspapers and updates/runs their social media. But when Facebook forced you to attach a business account to a personal account, the company forced her to attach her personal account to the business account, meaning she has to log in to her personal Facebook account each day in order to do her job (any other way would have violated Facebook's terms of use or would have made it difficult to do her job). So she is FORCED to log in to Facebook every day on a work computer, where the company is monitoring her at all times and forewarns that they are using keystroke technology to store her log-in information, since she has "chosen" to use social media at work.

Sitting alongside the "usual" stuff you'd find in a company policy, here are some interesting excerpts:

"...Unless specifically instructed, associates are not authorized, and therefore restricted, to speak on behalf of the Company. Associates may not publicly discuss clients, products, associates or any work-related matters, whether confidential or not, outside company-authorized communications..."

In other words, you cannot talk about work in any way on any personal social media sites unless authorized to do so by the company.

"Freedom Communications, Inc. reserves the right to monitor, intercept and review, without further notice, every associate’s activities using the Company’s IT resources...and you consent to such monitoring...This might include, without limitation, the monitoring, interception, accessing, recording, disclosing, inspecting, reviewing, retrieving and printing of transactions, messages, communications, postings, log-ins, recordings and other uses of the systems as well as keystroke capturing and other network monitoring technologies."

We are watching, and if we want, we'll use your password and snoop around.

"...The Company requests and strongly encourages associates to report any violations or perceived violations of this policy to supervisors, managers or Human Resources. Violations include discussions of the Company, its associates and clients..."

Please, please, rat on your coworkers.

"...The Company encourages its associates to participate in [social] media as a means of generating interest in the Company’s products and services and creating business opportunities by promoting and raising awareness of the Freedom Communications, Inc. brands..."

In practice, the company encourages you to use your personal accounts during business hours for business purposes.

But there has been another development at another paper. A reporter for the Colorado Gazette (part of the sold group) has been placed on administrative leave and expects to be fired for posting a link--nothing more, no opinion, no nothing--on his personal Facebook account to a Los Angeles Times story regarding his company's sale from Freedom to Trust 2100. The company told him he MUST remove the link, as it violates social media policy in it being "disparaging or defamatory" or could be "misconstrued in a way that could damage the company’s goodwill and business reputation, even indirectly," as per their social media policy

Why the craziness? The LA Times article includes information about the sale that Freedom papers did not include, namely that Trust 2100 plans to flip all the papers but the OC Register to help pay for the sale.

Here's the LA Times article that may get a CO reporter fired for posting it on his personal Facebook:

What's your company's social media policy?