ABC updates social media guidelines

ABC has updated its social media guidelines for all workers, which follows from some high profile incidents in the past.

Amongst its guidelines it defines ABC Workers as:

“Any person who carries out work in any capacity for the ABC, including work as: an employee; a contractor or subcontractor; an employee of a contractor or subcontractor; an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work at the ABC; an outworker; an apprentice or trainee; a student gaining work experience; or a volunteer.”

It continued, “…many journalists and content makers use social media platforms like Twitter to research stories and establish contacts. Be aware that using social media can often attract adverse responses from members of the public (e.g. online bullying and trolling).”

For all ABC Workers personal use of social media is subject to the following standards:

• Do not damage the ABC’s reputation for impartiality and independence.
• Do not undermine your effectiveness at work.
• Do not mix the professional and the personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute.
• Do not imply ABC endorsement of your personal views.
• Do not disclose confidential information obtained through work.
• Do not post or share ABC content on personal social media prior to it being published or distributed by the ABC.

It also refers to High Risk Workers.

“Your profile and seniority determine if you are a high risk Worker. The higher your profile or seniority the greater the reputational damage to you and the ABC if you breach the Guidelines, and the more likely a breach will attract attention,” it states.

“If you are a Worker with a high profile, such as a presenter or a journalist, you should assume you are a high risk worker.”

High risk Workers should:

• Treat personal content with the same care as if being published or distributed on an ABC platform.
• Consider regular review or automated removal of historical posts on public facing social media. What may have been appropriate to say a decade ago could be seen in a different light now.
• Consider including a statement on each of their public-facing social media sites that the content published or shared reflects their own and not their employer’s/ABC’s views.
• Engage in debate in a respectful manner, avoiding abusive language.
• Avoid anything that could be construed as personal disapproval or personal support for policies and actions or inactions of public figures.
• Avoid engaging in advocacy on matters of contention.
• Where appropriate include a statement on each of their social media sites that the content published or shared reflects their own and not their ABC’s views.

The consequences of a breach could see ABC:

• take disciplinary action against the Worker (including dismissal or cessation of engagement);
• exercise contractual remedies.

“Workers should also be aware that if their conduct amounts to a breach of any law (such as defamation or vilification), action may be taken by the ABC, concerned third parties or law enforcement agencies. Workers will be personally liable in relation to any such claims or actions including all associated costs and damages,” said ABC.

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