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Jan 26, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

One state is banning personal use of social media at work.Wait, seriously?

Yep. No employee of the State of South Carolina will be allowed to use social media on the job, “unless specifically required by the agency to perform a job function.”

Cassie Cope at first reported this news. According to the State Employee Code of Conduct Task Force report, the new rule is designed to provide “clear, easy to understand guidance to state employees and will provide the public with greater trust and confidence in state government” and to curtail waste of state resources.

One view of the ban: It’s “nuts”

Kevin O’Keefe, of the Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog, offered his two cents. He thinks the ban is “nuts,” and cites a 2013 Microsoft study, among others, as support. Kevin underscores the many positives that come from employee use of social media; namely, engagement, collaboration, learning and accessing information, and saving time.

I’ll throw in that social media use can help to reduce employee stress. The ability to interact with ones friends and family in such a large support network — even for a quick minute or two — can help get an employee through a rough day at work.

But, getting back to Kevin’s points, I suspect that many of the reasons he cites to support social media use at work could, as needed, liberally apply to the job-requirement exception. The main issue I see arising from this impractical rule is enforcement.

How is the State going to enforce an edict broad enough to include social media use on personal devices such as smartphones and tablets? Will they be monitoring employee social media accounts? If the idea here is to conserve state resources, it seems that enforcing this law will do anything but.

The new law goes into effect in July.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.