5 Employee Twitter Bio Disclaimers You Should Add Today
Jessica Miller-Merrell | HR, Social Media| By
If you are on Twitter, you know I am a fan. At a dinner with HR friends earlier this year, someone told me I am one of the most transparent people on Twitter. I guess that’s true. I see Twitter as a random stream of my consciousness and conversation where I share some things person and some things business, but what you see is really what you get. I wish everyone was like that all the time. It would make life so much more simple and refreshing. There would also be a lot of over sharing. I’ve tweeted random things about stirrup pants and working in HR. I’ve tweeted sad things like the passing of my father in law when we lost him to cancer. I’ve tweeted spiritual things when I asked people to send good karma to my mom who was in ICU. Don’t worry she made a full yet scary recovery. And I’ve tweeted joyous things like when my water broke and we brought Ryleigh into this world. You might remember these things, and maybe you don’t, but that’s why Twitter is so great. It fuels the random nature that suits me to a ‘t’.
5 Employee Twitter Bio Disclaimers You Should Add Today
What I don’t get about Twitter is a growing trend by employers to request employees to add disclaimers to their social media profiles. Your employer doesn’t really think these disclaimers will do anything. It gives them a sense and appearance of control when there is no case law to support the trend. I hear employment law attorneys advise the practice over and over again. Disclaimers are seen in the bio of your Twitter profile meant to alert those that read your tweets to the fact that opinions, updates or mentions are made by you and not your company.
Disclaimers are important but so is an employer social media policy and training for their employees. Heck, this blog even has a disclaimer of our own outlining risk, use or intent of the information shared, distributed and for what purposes whether it be for work, humor and business purposes. I’m not an attorney although I know that its nearly impossible for a legitimate legal disclaimer to fit in 140 characters or less. Imagine if your employee handbook was written in 140 characters of less.
Here are some standard Twitter disclaimers:
Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer
My tweets are my own
My opinions are my own
Tweets are my own and should never be taken seriously
Social Media Policies or Social Media Disclaimers?
A disclaimer is the virtual equivalent of having a t-shirt or sign hung around your neck, that says, “I have an opinion but not if it means that I get fired.” It’s really a corporate noose, and in my opinion, it is entirely unnecessary. A Twitter disclaimer will not save you from your job if you tweet crappy or offensive stuff. It won’t keep a business from a lawsuit. A Twitter disclaimer gives an employer an easy out when you tweet or share some inappropriate, offensive or that doesn’t represent the corporate brand so tweet with cautiously or wind up fired because of social media.
Social media disclaimers are after all just words and are not for the employee but the employers benefit. Employers who ask for such things do not understand the purpose of or how to use social media. Your marketing team knows this, however they are making the decision to not fight this battle with the executive team or business leader who came up with the brilliant idea for employees to add a disclaimer. Personally, I think if an employee has a social media disclaimer, it’s likely a red flag to a prospective employees that if they want to have an opinion on social media, they should run very far away from the company.
Social media provides individuals a platform to build an audience like never before. Individuals have power. They can share their updates and information in real time that’s forever recorded on the internet. But if disclaimers give your attorney and boss some peace, I say why not, but make that disclaimer your own. Here are some examples or you can use a tool to make your own.
My employer got this Twitter disclaimer & all I got was this lousy t-shirt
Free speech doesn’t pay the bills. Tweets don’t represent employer
Opinions are also those of my employers. They just don’t know it yet
These opinions are my own and not of the imaginary man in the sky
The man may keep me down but opinions are my own
Unlike employers asking for Facebook and other social media passwords which more states are making the practice illegal, adding a Twitter disclaimer is completely up to you. How would you react if your employer asked you to add a disclaimer to your Twitter bio.
Heather Bussing says
“My opinions are my own” and other disclaimers have absolutely no legal effect whatsoever.
Whether your employer is liable for your defamatory, discriminatory, or other tweets has to do with whether you were acting in the course and scope of your employment or as an agent for your employer at the time. It also has to do with how much the employer controls your activity on social media. So when employers require disclaimers, they are asserting control, which ironically, can give rise to liability.
If there is a lawsuit, a court will look at all the surrounding circumstances; it will never simply rely on a disclaimer.
Jessica Miller-Merrell says
Thank you for your comment. Appreciate the insights as always. I think that disclaimers are just one of the things that tell me as an employee or candidate about the company and their culture. How do they feel about social media and are they a culture that seeks to control?
Ben Schumin says
The idea of a “my opinions are my own” social media disclaimer in general is a bad idea, as I consider it tantamount to apologizing for having the capability to think and reason for yourself, and to be able to form your own opinion.
If individuals and their employers want to create a separation between personal and professional communications in social media (and there are very valid reasons to do that), then rather than request that employees create stupid little disclaimers, they should ask that the employees not brand their personal accounts in a way that implies or makes one potentially believe that the person behind the account is speaking on behalf of their employer. I find it amazing how many people brand themselves entirely in the context of their work on their personal Twitter accounts, and then disclaim that the tweets are endorsed or approved by their employer. Not only does it give the impression that such people are rather one-dimensional and that they can only define themselves by what they do for a living and have no other interests, but it also connects their personal online identity with that of their employer. With, that, it blurs the line between personal and professional, and makes it difficult to know for sure whether one is speaking as an individual or as a representative of their employer.
I like to think that I’ve created a good separation in my online branding. The bio on my @SchuminWeb Twitter account, as of this writing, is, “Ben Schumin and The Schumin Web. Ya know.” There’s also a link to my website, The Schumin Web. There is no ambiguity about who the person behind the account is speaking for because it contains no branding for any entity other than myself.
If more people would simply brand themselves as themselves and only themselves, rather than branding themselves in the context of their employer, then all of these ridiculous Twitter disclaimers would sort themselves out.
What makes you think that the employer is responsible for the employee using this disclaimer?
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