The booming use of messaging app Snapchat could cause major headaches for employers as workplace bullies take advantage of its self-destruct selling point.
Snapchat allows its millions of users to send messages, particularly photos or videos, to others but then automatically destroys the messages after they’ve been viewed.
But Seyfarth Shaw lawyers Justine Turnbull and Shomaice Zowghi warn that the app’s biggest selling point – its auto-destruct technology could encourage its use by those behaving badly at work.
“Since it is a platform where content is temporary, it’s easy to imagine its appeal to a person who wants to bully or harass others in the workplace,” they write in a post on the company’s blog.
“It is much harder to collect evidence in relation to conduct occurring on Snapchat – at least, much harder than Instagram, Twitter or Facebook where content can be easily shared and captured.
“Snapchat’s fleeting nature potentially encourages more inappropriate and/or high-risk behaviour and people often deliberately use Snapchat to share photos and videos that they wouldn’t dare to post on Facebook or Instagram.”
The lawyers note that, like all digital content, Snapchat leaves a digital trail an employer wanting to investigate poor behaviour would probably have to convince Snapchat to hand over data, which was “virtually impossible”.
“But where does that leave employers when someone makes allegations of bullying, sexual harassment or discrimination that have occurred in the workplace via Snapchat and no evidence can be collected to prove that the conduct took place?” they write.
“Unfortunately it will probably result in a situation that is all too common in such scenarios – one person’s word against another.”
They recommend companies include Snapchat in their social media policies and suggest that “it may be better to keep Snapchat and work colleagues separate completely”.