Social Media in the 2010s: A Force Awakens
Today, cross-posted on the LXBN site, I reflected on the biggest legal developments of the first half of the decade. I am reposting it here, but my sincere thanks to Lexblog for the support it has given me over the past 8 1/2 years and for the opportunity to provide some insight on its sight.
When I was asked by LexBlog to provide insight into my most significant story I’ve written about in the first half of this decade (and wondering if it started on January 1, 2010 or 2011?), I first thought about looking at some statistics of pages visited on my blog.
Turns out that my most read story was….a blurb on what the IRS reimbursement rate for business travel was in 2010. (Followed by stories on the rates for 2015, 2011 and 2012.).
So, let’s just say that blogging statistics can be a bit deceiving. Though, one other statistic really stands out: There’s been a huge rise in viewing the blog on both social media and on mobile phones.
And that, I think leads me to what I think is the big overall story of the 2010s: The rise of social media in employment law.
This is, of course, not new. Back in 2012, I indicated that the biggest story then was the rise of social media.
That has only been amplified in the following years.
For the first few years of the 2010s, it seemed that every other presentation I did was on social media. First, it was to educate employers on what social media was. But then beyond that, was the second layer — how was social media impacting the workforce. In 2012, I helped plan WESFACCA’s “Day of Social Media” to help educate in-house lawyers on the perils of social media.
My discussions ranged from the now seemingly quaint “Facebook firing” case of November 2010 to the September 2013 case where a Facebook “like” was deemed a protected activity to the new 2015 Connecticut law restricting employer access to personal social media accounts.
But I do think the tide is turning a bit. Social media has become so mainstream that it is now just part of the myriad of things human resources has to keep track of. People are less shocked by a Facebook post and employees have become smarter about their use of privacy settings too.
Sure, people still say stupid things on social media and they are still getting fired for it (appropriately, in some instances) but employers are now able to keep some perspective about the whole thing too.
So, in five years (and heaven help all of us if I’m still writing this blog in five years), I think it’s unlikely to still be dominating posts like it did for the first half.
What will take it’s place? My wager is on data privacy. Yes, it’s a bit self-serving of me to predict this in light of the presentation we did this month on this very topic. But judging by the interest we’ve been getting in the subject, I think we’re on to something.
Employee data is just one aspect of this. Rather, employers who store information on a computer are subject to attempts at hacking and theft on a daily basis. Plus, employees who transmit information may do so without encrypting the information — leaving the data open to prying eyes.
I don’t know where it all will lead, but I will say that if you aren’t doing everything you can to ensure the safety of the data on your networks, you probably aren’t doing enough.