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Tweets Gone Bad: Consumers Recognize Risks of Employees’ Social Behavior, YouGov Finds—And Think Companies Should Be Able to Punish Them for Bad Tweets

The PR and reputational risks of inappropriate social messaging by company employees has been a red flag for corporate leadership for a while now, but the fallout is now resonating with the consumer population. According to the latest YouGov Omnibus survey, many Americans believe that it is now appropriate for companies to be able to discipline employees for inappropriate social media content.

Employers should be able to discipline staff

Forty-one percent of respondents believe companies should be able to discipline staff for their social media activities, compared to 32% who do not. College grads (51%) are more likely to agree on discipline than those with a high school education or less (38%), as are those at higher salary levels. 

Although a quarter (25%) think that, as long as it is a personal account, an individual’s social media pages should be of no concern to their employer, 52% believe companies should be able to discipline an employee for content supporting or indulging in hate crimes, violence or criminal activity. Forty-seven percent feel that an employer should be able to discipline an employee attacking the company, its staff or brands.

Private Messaging Confusion

The YouGov study also found that there is a great deal of confusion about which social media options offer private messaging and many are nervous about using messaging privately without slip-ups.

  • 57% did not think social media was a good method to send private messages
  • 53% correctly thought that Facebook had “private” messaging options
  • Only 15% knew that LinkedIn or Twitter’s (17%) had messaging capabilities

Older users are less likely to venture into the realms of private messaging than younger users—two thirds (67%) of 18-34 year olds have used Facebook’s private messages, compared to only 41% of the over 55s. 

Older users are also unsure about the status of messages: 27% of those aged 55+ are not sure when their messages are private and when they are public, compared to only 16% of 18-34 year olds. Many people (50%) assume that any message, even if it starts as a private message, might be made public.

A (very responsible) 78% of Americans claim that they have never sent a message they regretted while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and 15% admitted they may have done this once a year or less.

Total sample size was 1141 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between May 9th-12th 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

Edited by Richard Carufel

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