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What happens to an employee's social media account when
the employee leaves a company? One British court has answered this question by ordering a
former employee of a recruiting firm to turn over his LinkedIn contacts to his
The answer to this question is not nearly as cut and dry
as this one case may make it seem. Ownership of social media usernames, pages,
and relationships depends on the nature of the employment, the nature of
relationship, and the ownership of the account. Thus, for example, an employee
hired to manage a business's social media will have much less of claim over
these relations than will an employee who uses social media to foster personal
relationships with co-workers, customers, and vendors. Salespeople-who might
use LinkedIn to manage business contacts, or Facebook and Twitter to promote
their companies and products-present a much grayer issue.
Because shades of gray lead to unpredictability, you
should plan for these uncertainties by reaching agreements with your
employees-up front and in a social media policy-on how social media ownership
will be handled at the end of employment.
[Hat tip: Forbes]
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