Judge Shows Why Employers Should Consider Prohibiting Employees From Posting Anonymously Online

A recent story about a judge in Ohio demonstrates why employers, when drafting a social media policy, may want to consider whether employees should be prohibited from posting anonymous comments online. 

More than 80 anonymous, opinionated comments posted on a newspaper’s website were traced back to the personal AOL e-mail account of Ohio Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold.  Many of the comments related to her high-profile cases.

Saffold’s 23-year-old daughter claimed responsibility for the comments but an examination of the judge’s court-issued computer shows that it was used to access the websites at the exact dates and times that the comments were posted. Comments included personal attacks against an attorney’s performance during trial and a statement that a defendant in a murder case was given a lenient decision by a jury because of his race.

Judge Saffold and her daughter are now suing the newspaper for $50 million for its release of her e-mail address (which is how she was “caught,” if it turns out that she was, in fact, the poster of the comments).

For more on this dramatic story, see the posts at CitMediaLaw.org and First Amendment Coalition.

For related posts on social media and its impact on the workplace, see:

Breach of Noncompetition Agreement Via LinkedIn

Sure, You Can Use Facebook at Work . . . We’ll Just Monitor What You Post

More Employers Searching Online for the Dirt on Candidates

Sample Social-Media Policy

5 Non-Negotiable Provisions for Your Social-Media Policy

State Off-Duty Conduct Laws and Facebook-Friending Policies

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