The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has issued a strong directive to all its Chief Commissioners and Director Generals in the country to check the Social Media usage of its employees. The board had begun to notice that its employees were very open with sharing office data and information on Facebook.
The letter read, “Some officers are posting online comments relating to official matters on social networking sites such as Facebook, causing confusion and avoidable controversy among officers in different parts of the country.”
“All officers under your charge should be advised to refrain from posting online comments regarding official matters in the public domain in violation of conduct rules. Non-adherence to these instructions should be viewed seriously by the controlling officers.”
The letter contains examples of such posts. Most of the comments were regarding a Supreme Court Judgement on April 30th, 2012 regarding a seniority issue in the Board. Officers and employees unhappy with said judgement took to Facebook to make their displeasure known. Another instance was a post about a tax-evading Gutkha Manufacturer before the matter was public. The posts got a lot of eyeballs and might have hampered the case.
According to “Discussing details of investigation on social networking sites and online comments on merits when adjudication or appellate proceedings may be underway, is completely unwarranted.”
A social media policy for an organization is the most crucial thing in these days of ‘over-sharing’ on Social Networks. There have also been studies pointing out how Social Media usage maybe lowering productivity in offices. There exist such policies for many Governmental bodies, Corporations, Intelligence agencies and other such companies where work cannot be publicly discussed. A slip-up on the part of an employee may cost the company or organization a lot in terms of trade secrets, internal workings and a lot of other things that the firm may not want on a public forum. Here is how the Government of Victoria looks at Social Media. Indian Government bodies and other private firms may do well to take a leaf out of this video.
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