The use by employees of social media in their private lives is positive for Swedish Radio. This use contributes to our operations by giving employees new knowledge and ideas and expanding their expertise in an important field.
For private employees, i.e. employees of Swedish Radio, it is important to remember that freedom of expression is limited by their contract of employment, and by the rules and principles of Sweden's labour law, collective agreements and the corporation’s policy on social media.
In other words, remember that what you do in private may be confused with your professional role. As a journalist at Swedish Radio, a statement you make on your private Facebook profile may have consequences for your credibility when you report on a particular topic. Your tasks at work may be affected if you have expressed yourself or blogged in a manner that might call the corporation’s or your credibility into question. In such cases, one result may be that you may be required to refrain from covering certain topics as a journalist.
Is there a topic on which you want to express an opinion but you feel uncertain about how this might affect your professional role? Discuss it with your manager in good time. It is usually possible to agree on solutions that do not jeopardise credibility. On a public platform, even if you point out that you are writing as a private individual, for example by writing ‘these are my private opinions’ or a similar wording in your Twitter bio, your credibility may be harmed.
Be particularly careful if you work continuously with issues on which you express an opinion, or if you know that you will be covering specific topics in a programme in the future. If you make an active choice to use your private account as part of your Swedish Radio work, you should always follow the rules and guidelines laid down by the corporation for publication online and on social media.
Remember also that work on a private blog or podcast may be so extensive that it involves you working on competing activities in the sense of the collective agreement. In such situations, it is important that you have the written permission of your manager to continue to blog, for example.
There are also rules in legislation and collective agreements on how you may express yourself about your employer, the duty of loyalty, and duty of confidentiality. Under collective agreements, employees are bound to be discreet about their activities and the activities of others in the corporation, about employees and participation in programmes and about internal affairs which, if they were made public, could harm the corporation’s operations or integrity.
Employees are also bound, in public contexts, to refrain from statements and actions that may result in the corporation’s impartiality, particularly in relation to politics, being justifiably called into question.
Consequently, for example, you should be careful about disseminating information that you receive via the intranet, and remember to respect your employees’ privacy when you use social media.
When you use a private account, you may not use Swedish Radio images or any other material that belongs to Swedish Radio without asking first. However, of course, it is always only a good thing if you link, share and recommend programmes, etc.
The accounts you use at work, when you are representing Swedish Radio, are never private. Not even if you write in them after working hours. As well as existing legislation and collective agreements, you must also comply with Swedish Radio’s programme policy when you manage accounts at work.
For companies that are contractors for Swedish Radio, their employees’ private use of and approach to social media are governed by contracts with the companies in question.
It can be very difficult to distinguish between ‘private’ and ‘professional’ on social media. For example, we often only have a personal account on Facebook, which is then linked to one or more work-related pages. As we are a media corporation, some of our employees are so closely associated with Swedish Radio that they are still deemed by the public to represent the corporation even when they are away from work in a private capacity.
Employers are also increasingly requiring their employees to use their own personalities, to be more personal on their programme and/or station accounts, which may, in turn, result in greater exposure in private accounts as well. This means that the lines are becoming increasingly blurred and it is necessary to constantly discuss with your line manager what is and is not OK.
At work, you should use newsroom/department accounts where possible when you communicate with listeners and visitors to the website. We can be personal in our responses but, if we handle our communications via newsroom/department accounts, we can also take over from each other at times of peak workload, and the criticism becomes less focused on individuals.
Remember that you are Swedish Radio when you surf the net from our SR computers. SR’s computers are intended for work use only, and have an IP address that belongs to Swedish Radio. This means, for example, that if you edit a Wikipedia article without having your own account, it will be published as something written by Swedish Radio.
If you leave an anonymous comment on a blog, the blog owner will be able to identify that the IP address belongs to Swedish Radio. The same applies to large numbers of other online forums, in which it is not unusual for participants’ IP addresses to be displayed in plain text in posts. The consequence may be that your identity as a Swedish Radio journalist is disclosed as part of a digital probe, or that the credibility of Swedish Radio is called into question.
This text was written in collaboration with Swedish Radio’s corporate lawyer Silvija Tolomanoska.