Relevance of Media Law for Businesses

By StepUpwards Team, 4th July 2022

Introduction

As India rises up the socioeconomic ladder, social media is becoming increasingly important in business. Social media networks are not only used to keep in touch with friends and family, but they also play an important role in business promotion. Because of the widespread usage of social media by the employer-employee community in India, it's crucial to understand how social media can be used in a way that serves the employer's best interests while also avoiding legal ramifications.

The major goal of this article is to comprehend Indian business attitudes about the use of social media as well as the potential legal problems and how India's current legal environment addresses difficulties resulting from social media use.

Role of Social Media in Business

Clients can be easily reached through social media. You can get insights into what you require by scrolling through your client base’s Twitter and Facebook posts. This is beneficial in assisting the company in developing marketing campaigns that fulfill its requirements. Individuals have a practical way to express their thoughts through social networking, and corporations have an incentive to respond. In today's fast-paced business world, more and more companies are embracing social media. Advertisements are an effective way to get the word out about your company. Managing social media sites is a suitable way to promote a business by extending the company’s online visibility through networking tactics.

Social networking is useful because it gives you insight into what your target market and potential customers for goods and services are discussing online. This gives businesses a better understanding of the sector and the various factors that affect it. Businesses profit greatly from the media since it provides a large platform for them to expand. Businesses that want to raise their profiles can use social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Unfortunately, many businesses neglect or are unaware of the legal ramifications that can come from the usage of social media by the company or its workers. The following are some of the potential legal snares:

1. Intellectual property protection

Companies must be aware of their brand identification as well as third-party trademarks. Trademark registration protects against unauthorized use by a third party and gives the firm control over when and how the mark and materials can be used. Consider creating a username for your trademark or service mark on social media networks. For example, because Nike took measures to register its logo as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office, it would be quite easy for the firm to sue for the unauthorized use of its logo on an unconnected Facebook page.

2. Employment

Businesses must be social media careful while hiring and firing. When you hire a competitor's employee, he updates his LinkedIn status. In turn, LinkedIn notifies your new the employee's contacts, which may include past clients. You're aware that your new employee signed a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting him from contacting his old employer’s clients. Is it possible for your previous employer to sue you for breach of contract? Is it possible for your former boss to sue you for interfering with a business relationship? Yes, both of those questions are correct. Even though you could finally succeed, it will cost you a lot of money in litigation. Employers in India can now learn a lot more about an application by using social media, as opposed to relying simply on the restricted information provided by the applicant and face-to-face interviews. Several recruiters spend time evaluating and screening applicants based on information found on social media to ensure that they are a good fit for the company, particularly its culture, and that they meet the job requirements. Furthermore, using social media to conduct background checks allows employers to screen out candidates who have overstated their work history or credentials on their résumé. Employers are experimenting with new platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others to achieve this goal.

3. Defamation

Defamation is an intentionally false and deceptive statement made orally (libel) or in writing (slander) that harms a person's or entity's reputation. Singer Courtney Love has been sued over a "tweet" she made against a fashion designer on Twitter. Any such statements should be withdrawn, and staff should be discouraged from making them and reprimanded if they do. Although not foolproof, a disclaimer will alert users and may deter potentially libelous claims.

4. Employers' use of social media to get information on employees

The use of social media by Indian employers raises problems about whether and how workplace confidentiality, loyalty, privacy, and monitoring policies should be written, and how they should be weighed against the right to freedom of expression provided by the Indian Constitution. In India, the concept of data privacy and protection is undoubtedly still in its infancy. The 'right to privacy,’ according to Indian courts, is a part of the other existing fundamental rights, such as' freedom of speech and expression 'under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and' right to life and personal liberty 'under Article 21 of the Constitution.

5. Data collection during and after employment

An employer has the right to acquire information about an employee from social media at any time during or after employment. However, the gathering of information, whether through social networking sites or otherwise, should always be proportionate to valid organizational reasons and with the employee’s consent. When dealing with sensitive personal data or information, employers need to seek the employee's prior written authorization, allow the employee to review and rectify the information, and maintain adequate security standards and procedures to protect such information.

6. Are there any other regulatory concerns?

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that a citizen shall not be denied or discriminated against by the state in any employment or office solely on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, or residency. Furthermore, the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 It also prohibits gender discrimination in the workplace. As a result, caution should be exercised to ensure that the use of social media information to recruit does not result in a violation of the Equal Remuneration Act.

The Information Technology Act of 2000 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (the "2021 Rules") are the current data protection rules in India.

In general, data protection is governed by the contractual relationship that exists between the parties, and the parties may enter into contracts to define their relationship. The Indian Contract Act (1872) is the law that governs contractual terms and agreements in India. As a result, a contract with a "confidential provision", in which an employer promises to keep material confidential notwithstanding the agreement's clear terms, would be considered a breach of contract, resulting in a lawsuit for damages. The fundamental difficulty is striking a balance between an employer's legitimate commercial objectives and his or her right to privacy.

Conclusion

Although social media sites are becoming a part of everyday life, the business owner must maintain control. What steps may a company take to avoid these and other legal issues? It has a social media policy that is well-written. An employee’s use of social media sites will be governed by a social media policy. The policy must be adopted, personnel must be trained to comprehend the policy, and the policy must be enforced once it has been drafted. A policy that isn’t followed is pointless, and if a social media issue is contested, the firm will likely be judged as if it didn’t have one at all.

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