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Livestreaming Pokemon At Work

Thu September 1, 2016 Publications

With the rapid changes in social media and the addition of livestreaming video, it seems impossible to keep workplace policies up to date. But, that doesn’t mean you should not try.

Consider Facebook Live which launched in April 2016 with an aggressive push to get regular users to watch and broadcast live videos. This allows Facebook to access and feature live breaking news, secret stories, and even intimate personal moments from just about anywhere, something television cannot do. It recently gained wide awareness for its use in the shootings in Minnesota and Dallas which demonstrated the power of livestream video to draw attention to important issues and breaking news.

What will you do if employees broadcast live from your office? What if they caim the livestreaming is “protected concerted activity?” How should an employer respond when the broadcast is going live and occurring in realtime? Hopefully, with thoughtful advance consideration and an established a written policy.

Another app, Pokemon Go, launched in July 2016, is a free-to-play, location based mobile game with social media capabilities. Players can join a team and locate, capture, battle, and train monsters, called Pokemon, who appear on the cell phone screen as if they were in the same world as the player. It has created controversy for causing accidents (like walking into moving vehicles or falling down the stairs while chasing imaginary Pokemon) and becoming both a workplace and public nuisance in some locations. Privacy, too, has been an issue.

Limiting employee access to Pokemon Go is much easier because it is clearly a game – not “protected concerted activity.”

While most social media and electronics policies allow employers wide discretion to monitor and block employees’ internet use on company-owned computers and devices, both of these new apps are typically found on employees’ personal cell phones. This means that use is not easily discovered and controlled by the employer. If your policy hasn’t been updated in a few years, these new apps would be a good excuse to do so.