Can you Sack Someone for Posting on BeReal at Work?

from Silk Helix
Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
8 September 2022
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BeReal is the latest social media platform aimed at unfiltered real life by randomly selecting a time each day and alerting its users to post an image within 2 minutes. Released in 2020 BeReal has become popular during 2022, but what does that mean for employers?

The Risks

If the alert goes off during the working day, it’s highly likely that people will be posting images from their work, for many that will be their computer screen. Computer screens which could be zoomed in on revealing confidential information about the company, individuals or tools being used. And, it’s not just those sitting at a computer, images could reveal customers, ways of working, posters on the wall or the “backstage” that might not fit with your front of house image.

The time restriction of 2 minutes creates a pressure on the individual to post without looking closely at the image, resulting in potential GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) breaches, exposure of company secrets and reputational damage.

This is in addition to the normal social media risks of sucking time, particularly if someone has been interrupted from their work. This may not be limited to posting images, all their friends are also revealing what they’re up to at the same time, there’s a strong incentive to stop work and browse.

What can employers do to reduce the risk of BeReal?

Prevention is always better than cure, there are 3 key things employers can do to protect themselves:

1. Confidentiality Clause

Your Employment Contract or Employee Handbook should contain a confidentiality clause reminding employees what is considered confidential information and that it must not be shared. The clause should state that sharing of confidential information may result in action under the [disciplinary procedure](/knowledge/what-is-a-disciplinary-procedure/ which could include dismissal for gross misconduct.

2. Social Media Policy

Your Social Media policy should reiterate that confidential information must not be shared as well as covering harm to reputation, making it clear that sharing posts or content that breaches either of these could result in action under the disciplinary procedure which could include dismissal for gross misconduct.

3. Provide Training

Training should be provided to employees to ensure they understand their role and responsibilities when it comes to GDPR. We also recommend that training is provided around social media, along with regular reminders. Social media use is not common sense, people and organisations all use it very differently. Training is essential to ensure people understand your expectations of them, what can be posted, what can’t and if relevant how the brand should be represented.

Reminders are necessary as people forget and things change. BeReal is a perfect example of that, this app in particular is designed to lower the guard and promote posting without thinking about it. In that 2 minutes individuals are not thinking about the consequences of the gross misconduct dismissal. Ultimately whilst you can dismiss, the damage to your company or brand may have already been done, training and reminding people is the route to preventing leaks and ensuring people are thinking about the consequences in that two minutes.

Do We Need to Update Our Social Media Policy to Mention BeReal?

No. In fact we recommend that you don’t mention specific platform names in your social media policy. The policy should widely cover posting on the internet, social media platforms change too regularly and your policy will quickly go out of date. There are also blogs, personal websites, discussion forums, the list is endless and all should be covered by your policy. Keep your social media policy wide and very clear around what can and can’t be posted and you’ll be covered each time a new platform pops up.

The key action to take at this point is to check your policies and provide training or update reminders to your team.

If you’re worried about the impact of BeReal or want to discuss your policies, book a free, no obligation, consultation today.

While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice.
We can help, so book a Free Advice Call .

Article last updated: 8 September 2022

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