While social media allows enhanced freedom of expression, and empowers employees to voice out their likes and dislikes with the world at large, this freedom of expression is largely misused in recent cases. Employees who represent the face of the brand and act as goodwill brand ambassadors for the company, what they say on blog posts, public forums and social media is taken seriously by the industry at large.
This practice of harnessing social media tools for defaming the brand repute of an employer is absolute misuse of the social media’s democratization of the web.
Employers should take strict actions against these employees who hide behind the walls and misuse the freedom of speech granted by the social media. They should be sued for spreading rumours and giving false opinions to the masses at large, such as to populate their page with likes and more reach on the web. Such kinds of negative publicity should be banned.
While strong opinions and counter-opinions can lead to arguments; this can still be managed tactfully the HR manager. However, when the temperature of argument soars up to passing remarks out of hatred, vitriol and bullying, is when “lynch mobbing” happens.
Racist remarks, comments and opinions shared by employees on social media channels, not just lead to trolling and is most often left with a lynch mob, delighted to add more levels of bullying to the already created ruckus.
Free Speech on Social Media: Is this Responsible for Lynch Mobbing?
The problem with social media is that it offers “untethered freedom” which more often results in “untethered hatred.” Instead of dealing with the person’s comments and resolving the conflicts or differences in view point on a face-to-face confrontation, the web allows comfort of a screen to hide behind and pass racist remarks, by physically being thousands of miles away from the target of abuse.
Danny Brown states, “Instead of leading to mature discussions around common goals, frustrations and injustices, it’s led to the bear pit mentality that we seem to be seeing more of. Ironically, as social media matures, the audience seems to be going the other way.”
Angry employees do get really emotional at times, and post abusive remarks about the company on social media personal pages and the next you see is, your company Facebook page is filled with remarks and criticism supporting the employee’s opinion. Indignant posts trying to boycott you and your services, and demanding you to make up to the employee’s resentment is forced upon the employer. Now this can be really irritating.
In 2014, Anton Casey lost his job with wealth management company Crossinvest Asia after he made derogatory comments about Singapore’s public transport system. In June, Canon employee Bryan Lim was slammed over a Facebook post threatening to “open fire” on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore. Although he made his post in a personal capacity, netizens were quick to hunt down his employer and demand that he be fired.
This situation can be quite tricky for companies especially when the offended users dig into the opinionator’s employer information and demand of the employer to fire him from duties. How should companies deal with lynch mob mentality?
The rise of social media has led to blurring of lines between what one comments in a professional capacity and those on the personal context of things. While by right, the public and personal sphere should be clearly defined on social media, but this doesn’t happen in real, they are intrinsically linked.
During such situations, Managing director of Hays Singapore Lynne Roeder recommends to Channel News Asia, that companies should “react quickly” and further clarify their standing on corporate blogs and social media forums. By recognising the fact that this incident happened, and the person concerned was not voicing out his concerns on behalf of the company should be made clear to state, that they are investigating the matter further.
Companies should clearly communicate their HR and social media guidelines to each employee during the onboarding process and make sure employee’s individual accounts are monitored randomly. The onus however just doesn’t rest on the employer and the HR manager.
Employees should also very cautious and clear about how to use the freedom of speech on social media and not misuse the rights provided by being overtly emotional and vent out frustrations on their personal social media accounts.
Employees should not be using their social media accounts as a daily journal to vent out their anger and frustrations, pass derogatory comments or remarks about a situation with little to no understanding on the subject.
The best policy for employees is to be responsible for what they say online, and think about the words to be used carefully, before making a post on one of these social media channels and create an entire buzz around happenings.