Oracle and its Social Media Participation Policy

ckelty May 4, 2011
2 minutes

Sometimes when you are searching for something, you find what you were looking for but it still surprises you. Such as Oracle’s Social Media Participation Policy.

What makes this particularly diagnostic of participation is that it is an internal policy (though posted publicly!) for a classical bureaucratic entity which attempts to govern participation in supposedly non-bureacratic non-organizations (social media) and therefore has to work out the contradictions of being a non-employee of (perhaps many) organized publics.

So for instance, the policy covers basically any mention of Oracle by an employee in any media either at work or at home. Oracle asserts its right to control its employees: Oracle employees are still expected to be loyal members of the “team”–and especially brand representatives of the organization. (Oracle as enlightened Despot?)

Even if your social media activities take place completely outside of work, as your personal activities should, what you say can have an influence on your ability to conduct your job responsibilities, your teammates’ abilities to do their jobs, and Oracle’s business interests.

Most of it is reasonable: don’t publish Oracle’s confidential information. Some of it is weird: “you may not publish (nor should you possess) our competitors’ proprietary or confidential information.” Huh?

Some of it is ironic, maybe? Don’t publish information about mergers and acquisitions.

Some of it is liability: don’t speak for Oracle, place a disclaimer on your personal blog, etc. etc.

Some of it is probably barely legal, or at least challengeable:

Don’t Post Anonymously

While you are not an official spokesperson, your status as an Oracle employee may still be relevant to the subject matter. You should identify yourself as an employee if failing to do so could be misleading to readers or viewers. Employees should not engage in covert advocacy for Oracle. Whenever you are blogging about Oracle-related topics or providing feedback relevant to Oracle to other blogs or forums, identify yourself as an Oracle employee.

Generally it makes me think that looking more closely at labor law should give us some insight into how new participatory schemes are being structured–to preserve the category of “employee”? To protect the “private” rights of employees? To control message and brand? Etc. Someone should get to work on this…