November 03, 2015 Articles

Maintaining Control of a Company's Social Media Accounts

Appropriate policies are necessary to avoid the inadvertent destruction of ESI or waiver of trade secret protection

by Joseph J. Blyskal and Delaney M. Busch

Careful thought should be given to the level of access and control retained by a company over social media accounts when drafting employee handbooks, nondisclosure agreements, and social media usage policies. That care is essential to avoid potential claims in later litigation that the company failed to preserve electronic data in such accounts. It is obvious that permitting sales employees to access social media in order to maintain sales contacts, develop client leads, and promote the company can drive business and provide a valuable database of clients and contacts for employers. Underscoring their value, many courts now recognize that an employee's social media accounts and online connections may qualify for protection as trade secrets. By definition, in order to maintain the confidentiality of any trade secrets in these accounts, employers must necessarily exercise some level of control over the accounts. Consequently, permitting employees to control social media accounts in connection with company business may broaden the scope of the company's duty to preserve information and data, and provide the same in discovery.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now