الرئيسية > Enterprise 2.0, web 2.0 > Virgin Atlantic and Social Media : legal Risks & SMP

Virgin Atlantic and Social Media : legal Risks & SMP

Virgin Atlantic airways (operating as Virgin Atlantic) is a British airline operates between the United Kingdom and North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

Virgin Atlantic

In 2008, 13 Virgin Atlantic staff members participated in a discussion on Facebook insulting the passengers and making jokes about faulty engines, which is considered as criticising the airline’s flight safety standards.

The company said their behaviour was “totally inappropriate” and had “brought the company into disrepute”. In a statement, the airline said: “Virgin Atlantic can confirm that 13 members of its cabin crew will be leaving the company after breaking staff policies due to totally inappropriate behaviour.

The incident is an example of internal employees falling foul of corporate standards as a result of their conduct on Facebook and other similar sites, which may put Virgin Atlantic into major legal risks associated with participation in Social media sites such as:

  • Harassment And Discrimination Risk: Chapter 3 of Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a variety of attributes such as sex, relationship status, age, race and so on.
  • Reputation Risk: which is the most harmful risk as the loss of reputation can badly affect Virgin Atlantic name and brand.

Other major legal risks associated with Social media sites and relevant to Virgin Atlantic can be:

  • Trade Mark Infringement: with social Media sites, everyone has the capability to establish page, group or user with Virgin Atlantic name or logo and use it in inappropriate manner.
  • Misleading and Deceptive Conduct: Virgin Atlantic can be liable for any statements made by its employees or contractors on its social media pages if they are knowingly false, misleading and deceptive and they knew of the statements
existence and still failed to remove them.
  • Defamation: Virgin Atlantic can be liable for defamatory acts and or statements of an employee who engaged by the company to preform social media task.

So to mitigate or avoid all that legal risks Virgin Atlantic Social Media Policy should attempt to:

  • Introduce a comprehensive Social Media Policy (SMP) to provide guidance and to bind employees both on-Duty and off-duty usage.
  • The SMP should cover all possible aspect of legal risks.
  • It is very important to train employees so that they understand the policy rules and to enforce the policy once it is implemented.
  • Protecting Virgin Atlantic Brand: Even if the company isn’t using social media yet, it should consider registering its trademarks as usernames on popular social media applications… even the emerging social media applications/sites just to mitigate any potential risks.
  • Monitoring Social Media: Virgin Atlantic should implement a monitoring application to ensure that SMP is being complied with, ensuring that the company or its employees are not violating any laws or the terms and conditions of any social media site, finding potentially damaging comments about the company or its products and services, and finding people infringing on the company intellectual property rights (e.g., misuse of Virgin Atlantic trademarks).

All these considerations must be taken into account by any organisation whether they engaging  social media or not  many  employees or customers will form an online opinion, so it is better to guide this experience into positive form.

So .. Can you come up with other legal risks or considerations must be taken into account by organisation?

Reference:
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  1. 29/08/2011 عند 9:00 ص

    Whilst the principles will apply, its doubtful whether Australian Law will apply in this situation. Its likely that there is a similar US or OK statute that will apply. Malcolm Burrows

    • 30/08/2011 عند 2:30 ص

      thanks Malcolm.. I appreciate your comment.. you actually right. Since Virgin Atlantic is UK-based, Equality Act 2010 will apply. I will change “Anti-Discrimination Act 1991” to “Equality Act 2010”

  2. 29/08/2011 عند 6:02 م

    Hi, looks like this was an accident that was always waiting to happen. Did the airline had a social media policy in place initially? If no, not having a social media policy proved disastrous for the company as i wrote in my previous post about the risks of not implementing enterprise 2.0 and this is probably a classic example. That being said, it is always difficult to control what your employees do before and after work therefore a carefully scripted social media policy is vital to keep things in-check. Great post!

  3. 30/08/2011 عند 10:37 ص

    It’s a clear example of how uneducated some employees are about the use of social media. If Virign Atlantic had policies, training programs in place to educate their employees about social media and their position as representatives of Virgin Atlantic, this could have been avoided.

  4. 31/08/2011 عند 8:34 م

    Great post Khalid,
    To answer your question, I guess the airline should ask its employees while they surf on the Internet to report any inappropriate comments that posted on any Social Media sites and help the airline, if they can, to remove them and improve the service that was complaint about. That what Commonwealth Bank did when they list its new Social Media Police. As a result, airline’s risks of involving in social media sites will decrease.

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