As things currently stand, if a Washington Post reporter tweets something bad about Panda Express, and Panda Express happens to be a Post advertiser, then that reporter can get fired. That’s according to the paper’s new social media policy, which is currently being protested by its union. These rules went into effect on May 1, reports the Washingtonian.
The policy says that employees cannot disparage products or services of the company’s “advertisers, subscribers, competitors, business partners, or vendors.” It also forbids workers from using social media on the job, unless it’s part of their authorized role.
Perhaps worst of all, the policy encourages employees to contact HR if they see someone in violation of the rules. Which is to say they are asking for snitches.
Other older journalistic institutions have had run-ins with social media policy woes. The New York Times, for instance, has asked that its reporters not “editorialize” on social media. But this instance differs from most others because of how broad and clear the Post‘s new rules are. And I imagine they could have a chilling effect with the paper’s current and future employees.