In line with the theme of this year’s APSA conference, this paper examines issues of
public employee rights as they relate to social media policies. This paper employs an
interdisciplinary approach to examine the issue of employee rights in relationship to social media
actions both on and off the job. The proliferation of the use and forms of social media in the last
five years has been extensive. Significant efforts are being made to capture the power of this
medium as a resource for government while at the same time governments are struggling to
create appropriate, legal, and meaningful policies related to employee usage and behavior.
Stories abound of public employees’ misuse of social media both at and away from work.
Misconduct has led to not just disciplinary action but substantial media attention. Issues of First
and Fourth Amendment rights, human resource policies, and technology policies are all critical
to this topic.
This paper reviews social media policies for public employees with attention to the
employees’ rights. Content analysis of state government policies provide an overview of the
current state of practice and highlight issues of public employee rights. The paper includes a
discussion of key issues of employee rights, recommendations for practice, and future research
Jacobson, Willow S. and Tufts, Shannon H.“To Post or Not to Post: Employee Rights and Social Media,” Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol.33, No. 1. 84-107.
Shannon H. Tufts
Human Capital Management