Last week, we talked about Social Media (SM) in term of benefits and usage for both individuals as well as organization. We also briefly discusses risks such as hindering organization image and the need for policies to give some guidance for a proper use of such emergent technology. Then, we ask the following questions: what does policy mean ?,  how these policies are formed? and who should be in charge of implementing them. Today, we will focus on what exactly policies mean and how polices can assist employers and employees in making the full use of SM.

The term Policy is a means of standardizing use (Alinaghian, Rahman, & Ibrahim, 2010; Bia & Kalika, 2007). Policy allows people to understand their roles and responsibilities within predefined limits (Bartridge, 2005). In other words, organizations use policies as guidelines to dictate its rules and regulations (Vroom & Von Solms, 2004). For instance, national policies (ex. health care’s policy, immigration policy); local or corporate policies (ex. Employees codes of conduct like no smoking, no drinking); business practices (ex. dress codes, vacation policy). However, before we furhter explain policies in Social Media context , let’s watch the folloing four minutes video of Social Media Policy posted by the Department of Justice (Victoria, Australia) to all of their employees  ( you can also find the SM policy here  )

This video did deliver very simple but important messages by using  list of statements (policies) to guide employees to a safe and effective use of SM inside and outside the department. In the folloing section , we will highlight the structure and some of these policies:


  • Scope:  to whom this policy apply to ex. This policy applies to all employees and contractors of the department
  • Definitions: what exactly does this policy mean by Social Media (SM)? Formal definition.
  • Objectives \ Purpose such as :
    • The need to use Social Media safely.
    • Protect the department & all of its employees against all potential risks and unlawful acts.
    •  Complaisance & consequences: 
      • It complies with Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees (VPS Code of Conduct). It is also complies with all relevant departmental and WoVG policies
      • Those who fail to comply with this policy may face disciplinary action and, in serious cases, termination of their employment or engagement.

Some specific policy’s statements:

  • SM is like a telephone, use commonsense !
    •  Don’t overuse, annoy, spend more time on….
    •  It shouldn’t interfere with work!
    • Be polite , and respect your peers in all social media like face book in all time
    • The anti bulling and workplace conflict policy (work conduct policy ) still apply.
  • Remember when you post, it is public property (Everybody can see it).
    • Treat them the same way you do during a meeting or any public forum which mean don’t discuss confidential or classifies material.
    • Respect copyright ,privacy
    • On your social media networks you only represent yourself.  
    • What happen in Vegas stay in face book!!

 However, as inclusive as these policies may appear, they still are not comprehensive because:

  1. It doesn’t address when and how much time should be spend on SM –> Is one  hour or two hours OK !!
  2. To avoid risks, the policy refer to other policies. –> You might endup reading hundereds of sate ,local and national policies !!
  3. The line between professional and personal lives are blurring, –>it is difficult to address this issue .
  4. The  policy doesn’t define use of SM outside the office –> If I am using my smart phone ,will that be personal use?

The previous example will definitely help employees to get some guidance around SM use but at the same time it highlights some policy issues in its very early stage of policy development life cycle  (design-stage).

 Abdulrahman Alarifi


Alinaghian, R., Rahman, A., & Ibrahim, R. (2010). Information and communications technology (ICT) policy management towards enabling research frameworks.
Alinaghian, R., Rahman, A. A., & Ibrahim, R. (2011). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy; Significances, Challenges, Issues and Future Research Framework. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 5(12), 963-969.
Bartridge, T. (2005). Why are policies & procedures so important? Retrieved from
Bia, M., & Kalika, M. (2007). Adopting an ICT code of conduct: An empirical study of organizational factors. Journal of enterprise information management, 20(4), 432-446.
Vroom, C., & Von Solms, R. (2004). Towards information security behavioural compliance. Computers & security, 23(3), 191-198.