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Apple’s Leaked Social Media Policies Show Areas to Improve by Frazer McKenzie

Apple’s Leaked Social Media Policies Show Areas to Improve

Frazer McKenzie


Last week Apple’s internal employee social media policy was leaked and published by 9to5mac. The policy outlines exactly how an employee must conduct themselves on social media and highlights the blurring of lines between public and private behaviour online.

“The lines between public and private, and personal and professional are blurred in online social networks. Respect your audience and your co-workers. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also topics that may be considered offensive or inflammatory. In sum, use your best judgment…

“…In general, what you do on your own time is your business. However, activities that affect your job performance, the performance of other Apple employees, or Apple’s business interests are still covered by company policies and guidelines. This applies whether you engage in these activities in or outside of work, and whether or not you identify yourself as an Apple employee.”

Apple’s policy includes separate guidelines for social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. They cover confidentially, customer privacy and rumour commentary in depth; with distinct guidelines of conduct over email and media platforms.

A few interesting points that are relevant to internal social media include:

  • Respect the privacy of your coworkers. Blogs, wikis, social networks and other tools should not be used for internal communications among fellow employees. It is fine for Apple employees to disagree, but please don’t use your external blog or other online social media to air your differences. Do not discuss your co-workers without their permission, and ask permission before posting their picture. By respecting your co- workers’ privacy you will be helping to maintain the professional work environment at Apple.

  • Protect Apple’s confidential information. As an Apple employee you have an obligation to protect the confidential, proprietary and trade secret information of the company. This obligation is laid out in several places including the Intellectual Property Agreement you signed when hired and in Apple’s Confidential Information Policy. For example, do not discuss any Apple confidential information including your store’s financial or business performance, and the timing, pricing or design of Apple’s products. Also, do not post pictures of the inside of the Apple Store – including the back of house – as those are not generally made public. Finally, do not post or disclose the contents of any Apple policy. These documents are intended for the use of Apple employees, and not for public distribution.

  • Don’t use your Apple email for personal use. Your Apple email address has been given to you for use at work. Therefore you should not use your Apple email address on your personal blog or when posting on social network sites. You have been given a free .mac/.me email address to use for non-work related emails. Please use that email or another personal email address for those types of communications.

For Apple and any other worldwide enterprise business, keeping tabs of all employees on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. is an impossible feat. In some cases, employees are caught and fired, but in many cases I’m sure it goes unmonitored. However this shouldn’t be the case internally. The policies above can be automatically monitored on all internal corporate sites as well as email so that guidelines can be enforced safeguarding both the business interests and employees.

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