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Protect your company from employees' defamatory Facebook comments

by , 07 February 2013
Social media has become a ranting space for people to complain about all and sundry. It's easy to forget that it's not a private space. That's why South Africa just had a landmark personal defamation case that points tosocial media's current role in society. Here are two ways to protect your company from employees' defamatory comments on Facebook.

In a first for South Africa, you now have to think twice about your Facebook comments, status updates, or tagged photos of friends' personal lives, writes BusinessTech.
 
That's because an interdict had just been granted to a Facebook user by the South Gauteng High Court after a friend made a defamatory comment about him, says The SowetanLive.
 
But what if it's an employee and not a friend that's made a defamatory comment about you in the social media space?
 
Many such cases have gone to the CCMA, but they tend to be sticky issues if your company's disciplinary code doesn't mention social media and how you'll deal with defamatory comments posted in the social mediaspace.
 
Two ways to protect your company from employees' defamatory comments
1. You can dismiss the employee for slander and for bringing your company name into disrepute – provided the content of the defamatory comment isn't true, says the Labour Bulletin.
 
2. You can make it very clear in your company's disciplinary code that you don't tolerate your employees bringing your company's name into disrepute.
 
Do this by adding a clause to your disciplinary code stating that anything employees say or do on social media sites regarding the company falls within the public domain.
 
Then, if they do say anything that brings yourcompany's name into disrepute, your employees will have to attend a disciplinary inquiry, which could lead to their dismissal.
 
Take these steps so you're protected if an employee makes a defamatory commentin the social media space. You'll have clear guidelines in place that should stand up if the matter goes to the CCMA.

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