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One of the most popular apps at the moment is Snapchat. It’s an app that allows you to take a photo or short video and send it to anyone on your snapchat contact list. The photo lasts a maximum of ten seconds and is then deleted. There’s no way of viewing the photo again. The only way to keep proof of the image is if someone is quick enough to take a screenshot or if you save the image to your ‘story’ which your contacts can see for 24 hours.

Earlier this year graduate Elski Felson tried to stand out from the crowd when he applied for a role with Snapchat in Florida. He used a number of Snapchat videos and images to create a story in which he applied for a role with the social media company. He took each of the essential requirements listed by Snapchat and then went on to explain by video and images why he was suitable for the role. It was an interactive covering letter. A clever idea and it most certainly got him noticed.

Snapchat is a form of social media. Because it is gone after a maximum of ten seconds it is much more difficult to monitor. Because of the fleeting to the nature of Snapchat people tend to risk sending more inappropriate images in the expectation that there will be no lasting proof……. The problem then comes when someone screenshots these. Earlier this year RBS Chairman Rory Cullinan found himself in that position.

Mr Cullinan had sent Snapchat ‘selfies’ to his daughter of himself in meetings. He noted on the various Snapchat images ‘boring meeting’, ‘another friggin meeting’ and ‘not a fan of board meetings’. His daughter took screenshots of these selfies and posted them on Instagram saying ‘happy Father’s Day to the indisputable king of Snapchat’. She may not have a career in diplomacy ahead of her ….The media got hold of the post and shortly after RBS announced that Mr Cullinan would be leaving with immediate effect.

In this case Mr Cullinan’s Snapchat ‘selfies’ finding their way online could have brought the company into disrepute falling into the category of gross misconduct. It is rare to find someone who does not use some form of social media. With that in mind every workplace must have a social media policy in place which gives the employer a framework to deal with inappropriate messaging involving the organisation, whether it is posted in or out of work time.

The policy should outline what usage of social media is acceptable. Some employees may need access to various social media as part of a role and some will not need access at all. You will need to take this into consideration when deciding what is acceptable. You can state that employees should only be accessing social media for personal use during lunch or rest breaks. The key thing to remember is that business and personal activities should not be mixed. Personal activity is one thing and a policy on social media is not meant to infringe personal interaction, it is to protect a business.

Any inappropriate statements should be reported to management (this can be done under the whistleblowing policy). The policy should state that breach will be viewed as serious of gross misconduct and that if the company reserves the right to deal with any misuse of social media through the disciplinary procedure, with any sanction up to and including dismissal.