The Texas Tribune is reporting today that legislators in the state have introduced a “bevy of bills” relating to social media. According to the article, the bills stem from “concern about privacy and safety.”
Most of the proposed bills sound like steps in the right direction, but legislators need to tread carefully here. Social media is an entirely new way of communicating and the politicians admit they don’t have social media accounts themselves, which tells me they may not understand it. Rushing in with legislation that attempt to alter some of the best qualities of social media, is not cool.
The most redeeming quality of social media is the fact that it is highly personal. This is why billions worldwide are flocking to it and trust it for everything from news to purchasing decisions. Legislation should not attempt to strip social media of its personality in order to preserve outdated ideas about work versus personal lives. Gone are the days when there were clear lines between the two realms. We may long for a simpler time when these two could be easily separated, but let’s not delude ourselves. Governments can not time travel backwards with laws that don’t respect the most compelling attributes of social networking.
Each organization needs to recognize that boundaries between work and personal are becoming increasingly blurred. Those who acknowledge the changing dynamic and strengthen their relationship with employees using social media, will have the best chance of succeeding. Organizations that can’t accept the new reality will find themselves coming up against a wall every time. And governments need to provide high level guidance–not micromanage.