South Carolina bans state employees from using social media

Under a new law, employees of the state won’t be allowed to use social media unless its use is required to do their jobs. This author thinks it’s a bad idea.

One state is banning personal use of social media at work.

Wait. Seriously?

Yep. Employees of the state of South Carolina won’t be allowed to use social media at work “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 provides “clear, easy to understand guidance to state employees and will provide the public with greater trust and confidence in state government” and curtail waste of state resources.

It’s “nuts”

Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs thinks the ban is “nuts” and cites a 2013 Microsoft study (among others) as support. O’Keefe underscores the many benefits of employees using social media, namely engagement, collaboration, learning and accessing information, and saving time.

I’ll add that social media can also reduce employee stress. The ability to interact with friends and family—even just for a minute or two—can help an employee get through a rough workday.

I suspect many of the reasons O’Keefe cites to support social media use at work could liberally apply to South Carolina’s job-requirement exception. The main issue arising from this impractical rule is enforcement.

How will the state enforce an edict broad enough to include social media use on personal devices like smartphones and tablets? Will the state monitor employees’ social media accounts? If the idea is to conserve state resources, enforcing this law will do anything but.

The law goes into effect in July.

This article originally appeared on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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