from the how-not-to-do-it dept
Over the last half a decade, Techdirt has written a number of times about employers seeking the right to ask for the social media passwords of their employees. But a story on the Quartz Web site suggests that India's largest media conglomerate has gone much further in its demands. In fact, there are two stories on Quartz covering this, posted on consecutive days. Here's what the first one reported:
Under a contract unveiled to employees last week, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd -- India's largest media conglomerate and publisher of the Times of India, Economic Times, among many other properties -- told staffers they are not to post any news links on their personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. This runs counter to many social-media policies in newsrooms across the world, which often encourage journalists to share content widely.
This understandably drew wide criticism for being clueless about how social media works, and how companies might try to benefit from it -- see, for example, Mathew Ingram's analysis on Gigaom. This barrage of negative comments coupled with resistance from the journalists affected seems to have forced the company to backtrack quickly -- but not much, as the second Quartz story explains:
But BCCL, as the company is known, is telling journalists that they must start a company-authorised account on various social media platforms. They also have the option of converting existing personal social media accounts to company accounts. On these, they are free to discuss news and related material. The company will possess log-in credentials to such accounts and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists' knowledge. It is now also mandatory to disclose all personal social-media accounts held by the journalist to the company.
There are two main changes. An earlier clause that said the company could continue to post updates from an employee's account even after they leave, has been removed. Secondly, the clause that earlier prohibited an employee from posting news links on her personal social media account has now become more ambivalent. It states:
If you are planning to maintain two user accounts, then the company expects that all content related to your primary role at BCCL should be solely posted on your Company User Account, though it can be re-tweeted/shared from your Personal User Account.
It is not clear whether that means journalists can or cannot post news and related links on their personal account. But they can retweet them off the official accounts. Adding to confusion, the company said it strongly encourages staffers to maintain one account, which by default, becomes the official account.
Like in the previous contract, the company claims unhindered access to all followers/friends of company user accounts. Any future revenue from such accounts shall belong solely to the company.
It remains to be seen whether this slightly amended policy proves more acceptable to BCCL employees, or whether resistance continues and it is changed again. In any case, it's a reminder that important issues about who "owns" and controls social network accounts used by employees are still largely unresolved many years after the problems first surfaced.