The guidelines that Apple employees are expected to adhere to when blogging and using social media have been revealed in a leaked document.
9to5Mac got hold of the document and published it in full. It made its decision to publish it in order to clear up the matter of the sacking of Samuel Crisp, an employee who posted negative comments about Apple on Facebook.
Crisp made the comments which were seen by one of his friends - a fellow Apple employee - who reported them to managers. Crisp, took his case to an employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds but the tribunal upheld Apple's decision.
In the document, Apple outlines the conduct that it expects from employees when using social media and blogs. According to the document, Crisp's actions were certainly serious enough to merit disciplinary action.
"If you identify yourself as an Apple employee or are known to be one, you are now connected to your co-workers, Leaders and even Apple's customers. You should ensure that content associated with you is consistent with Apple policies."
It goes on: "All such individuals are expected to comply with Apple's business conduct policy and principles and with all applicable legal requirements. Apple retains the right to discipline (up to and including termination of employment) or end working relationships with those who do not comply."
Much of the document concerns leaking of information. "As an Apple employee you have an obligation to protect the confidential, proprietary and trade secret information of the company. This obligation is laid out in several places including the Intellectual Property Agreement you signed when hired and in Apple's Confidential Information Policy."
Staff can't post pictures taken within an Apple Store - which presumably means that the so-called iPlankers must have been in trouble. They also can't use their internal Apple email account for personal use or make any comments about unreleased products.
The entire text of the document, posted below, also makes reference to speculating on rumours internally with other members of Apple staff. "Only those individuals on the Company's official disclosure list are entitled to receive and discuss information pertaining to unannounced Company information," the document reads.
There's little that surprises in the document, though one thing that you might find interesting is one of Apple's justifications for not commenting on rumour and speculation. "By withholding comment, Apple hopes to protect customers from making decisions based on information that is incomplete, inaccurate, or subject to change before the formal announcement."
Whether or not you as an Apple employee choose to create or participate in a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion is your own choice. In general, what you do on your own time is your business. However, activities that affect your job performance, the performance of other Apple employees, or Apple's business interests are still covered by company policies and guidelines. This applies whether you engage in these activities in or outside of work, and whether or not you identify yourself as an Apple employee.
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