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Social media and staff- is trust more important than reach?

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the media news this week- as we have at this particular award-winning Manchester PR agency- then news from India’s biggest newspaper probably won’t have passed by unnoticed. And for good reason too, as irrespective of your particular industry, it calls into question a few moral, ethical and practical issues with the biggest of all digital requirements.
For those who missed the headlines, first let’s cut to the chase. The Times of India, which is certified as boasting a circulation rate of 3.14million- perhaps surprisingly the largest daily in readership terms of the English-speaking world- has drawn up new rules and regulations governing how staff can use social media. Or rather how their bosses can. The crux of which basically means journalists at the title must hand over their personal Twitter and Facebook passwords to allow the company to post on their behalf, or set up brand new accounts that the company can then use on their behalf.
Here’s a better description, as per the revised contract:
The company may upload news or other material on the company User Account through any means, including automated upload streams, at its sole discretion, notwithstanding any termination of your contract with the company.
“The company shall be the owner of the access passwords, username and associated email address for the User Account, which shall be used by you on behalf of the Company to make posts. Company retains administration rights of the User Account, which shall be made accessible to the Company on demand.
“It is understood that sharing of such details of the User Account shall be an integral part of your contract with the Company and shall also be necessary for processing any settlement related to termination of such Contract.
Needless to say, there have been some interesting headlines off the back of the decision… mostly negative. And this certainly raises the quandary of how far into someone’s personal life an employer should be allowed access to. After all, who would want their boss having the rights to view all those apparently private photos of them in party mode at 3AM, face covered in shaving cream?
Yet look at things from another position, namely that of the average top dog, and the picture becomes a little less clear. With the ongoing pressure on any content creating agency to master the art of comprehensive sharing across any and all staff members online, surely it makes sense for a firm to want to take ownership of several personal accounts in a bid to increase overall reach?
Well, if you ask us, the answer is definitely not. And as such we have one question that needs an answer:
Is trust within a company more or less important than everyone on the team, or at least their online accounts, faithfully repeating the mantra chosen from those on high? Or, to put it another way altogether, should staff be forced to make their personal lives transparent to their employers, just to build on the level of content exposure?
Answers in the comments form below (rather than a stamped and addressed envelope), thanks very much…

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