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Social media creates opportunities for nondisclosure breaches

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Business Litigation

For many businesses, social media is a beneficial resource. Social media advertising allows for very controlled and deliberate use of marketing funds. Social media can also drive brand awareness, as it only takes one viral post or video to make consumers aware of a growing business.

However, social media also creates numerous challenges and risks for businesses. Complaints by customers or former employees could go viral. Attempts to cancel businesses can cause operational disruptions and massive expenses that companies may struggle to absorb. Social media also gives a frustrated former employee the perfect opportunity to violate a nondisclosure agreement with their former employer.

Social media users love drama

People can drive a lot of traffic to their profiles and develop a platform with a single post or video. So long as someone’s content strikes a chord with certain social media users, what they say online can spread rapidly. Current and former employees could potentially violate nondisclosure agreements in their desire to draw attention online or develop a social media following. For example, someone might take to a video social media platform to complain about harassment they claim to have experienced at work before leaving a company. They might also share trade secrets, such as information about suppliers or proprietary recipes.

Oftentimes, when someone’s statements relate to company conduct or their experience as an employee, they may feel compelled to exaggerate their claims or highlight the worst details in a way that gives an inaccurate impression of how the company treats its employees or operates. Hyperbole tends to draw attention, but it can also create an unrealistic impression about what actually happens at a business. Former workers and others bound by nondisclosure agreements could violate their contracts with companies through their social media conduct and could do real damage to the organization with what they share online.

Digital evidence could affect a real lawsuit

Although people technically have the freedom to use social media platforms as they see fit, businesses do still have certain rights. Whether an employer required that a worker sign a nondisclosure agreement to prevent the sharing of trade secrets or details about company operations, online content could violate the terms of that agreement and leave the employee at risk of legal action.

Businesses may need to preserve digital evidence, as those who recognize that they have put themselves at risk of legal action might delete content after it starts gaining traction. Sending a warning letter to the former employee about the violation of the non-disclosure agreement might prompt them to delete content or recant prior statements. However, the deletion of that content does not eliminate the option of taking legal action to enforce the contract.

Enforcing a non-disclosure agreement through litigation can potentially help a company protect its reputation and trade secrets. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to clarify a company’s options in the wake of misconduct online.