Online political endorsements carry some risks for employees

In politics, the “silly season” refers to that pre-election period of time when a slew of announcements and promises are made by political parties and candidates of all stripes.

If you have a baby, it will be kissed. If you have a hand, it will be shaken. If you have a birthday party, funeral or announcement event, there will be candidates there to wish you well – or offer condolences, depending on the situation.

During any election or pre-election period, it is important that candidates ensure that endorsements they place on social media websites such as Facebook or their own official websites are “kosher,” so to speak. I’ve been on a few local candidates’ Facebook pages and video endorsements that had been linked to from YouTube are now gone, but the references to them are not.

It is incumbent upon anyone getting involved in the political process to ensure that your employer, for instance, permits you to endorse candidates, especially if you’re endorsing them as an employee of a certain company or organization. While it is incumbent on endorsers to do their homework, it’s also important that politicians ensure that their endorsements are legitimate, i.e. that they won’t have to be removed.

Moral support and word-of-mouth can be just as powerful as a video endorsement. Just ensure if you’re placing video or written endorsements on your website that you won’t have to remove them later on. Ensure the videos fall within the endorser’s employment guidelines and do that before they’re posted. It is always awkward for both the candidate and the endorser to have these removed after the fact.

With that said, there are many ways of helping a candidate with their social media activities. First, if you’re quite familiar and comfortable with Facebook, you can become an administrator on a candidate’s Facebook page. You can also help a candidate with Twitter or manage their website. All these sorts of jobs are very important and becoming much more high profile as the world adopts social media more and more.

I say: If you’re thinking of publicly endorsing a political candidate in any location — and if you’re lending your work title or organization to your endorsement to lend credibility — be sure your employer is OK with that first. If you’re a candidate, make sure your endorsements are on solid ground before posting them online or you may have to remove them at a later date, causing potential embarrassment to both parties.

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