Have a thing for sullen feline memes?

The Internet's the place for you.

You can post it, pin it, tweet it, share it and even "like" it to your heart's content.

Just don't do it from your employer's computer.

That's just common sense, as is most of York County's new social media policy for employees.

It comes down to a basic rule, one that everyone should know by now: Keep your work cyberlife separate from your electronic cyberlife.

There is no privacy on office-owned computers or other electronic devices, even if an employee uses personal accounts. Most employers stipulate they have the right to monitor how their equipment is being used -- and employees should assume they're doing so.

With that in mind, the county's new policy forbids employees from using social media during work hours, or even after hours if it's on county equipment.

The policy mentions 10 popular sites -- Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter -- but says no site is exempt.

Violators face disciplinary action, including possible termination.

There also are rules even for when employees are off the clock and on their own device. Those also are basic -- things that are illegal or that would get one fired even if it wasn't done over the Internet.

For instance, when using social media, county employees must maintain the confidentiality of county business.


Of course. And gossiping about confidential office business over the phone or the neighbor's fence also could get a worker canned.

The policy states employees must comply with all copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws when posting content to any Internet site. Employees also are prohibited from using social media to harass, threaten, discriminate or retaliate against employees or anyone associated with, or doing business with, the county.

Those things can get one sued or arrested just as easily as fired, so county officials are still basically stating the obvious.

It's when the policy "discourages" certain practices -- off the clock and on employees' personal equipment -- that things might get tricky.

For instance, workers are discouraged from identifying themselves as county employees. Yet, that's one of the first topics that comes up on social media -- "What do you do?" And that's assuming that others on the site don't already know.

However, the county's suggestion that "at a minimum" employees post disclaimers making it clear opinions expressed are theirs and theirs alone makes perfect sense.

Then there's the issue of "friending."

To avoid "the appearance of impropriety regarding perceived conflicts-of-interest," employees are discouraged from developing personal social media connections with business associates such as attorneys, vendors, clients or consumers.

That would leave ... who, exactly, to "friend" -- especially in a community like York County? Here, if you don't know someone, you probably know their brother, mother or uncle. Some of those connections might be impossible to avoid.

We think most people understand if their personal actions reflect poorly on their employer, there could be consequences. The same goes for using company equipment for personal use.

Still, it's a good idea for county officials to have it in writing, just to be clear.