How not to implement a social media policy

One of the really interesting things about living in Mobile, Alabama is our celebration of Mardi Gras.  It began with the French settlers in the 1700’s and was revived after the Civil War by some unruly gentlemen objecting to the Yankee Occupation.

Of course, Mardi Gras wouldn’t exist without Mardi Gras societies.  The modern version of these institutions is generally a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with a board and various officers.  Most of the time, the organizations strive for anonymity of its membership, hence the wearing of masks during parades.  It’s all just one great big jolly time.

Until there are rules.  Due to the evolution of Facebook, Instagram, and the like, some organizations are adopting social media policies that prohibit members from posting pictures or comments which might identify that person as a member of the secret society.

Several members of one such group recently retained me to help them with a serious problem: the powers that be appear to be acting in a capricious and biased manner toward a handful of members.  One of these members was deemed to have violated the group’s social media policy, despite the group not actually having a social media policy.

A cordial letter to a lawyer on the board has resulted in a written social media policy being proposed for adoption by the society.  So far, so good, right?

Unfortunately, last weekend the head cow, er, president of the organization held a family celebration.  Band, lots of guests, food, spirits.  All captured in photographs, some of which have been posted to social media. Including one of the, um, president wearing his head cow, er, president’s hat.

Don’t know how this is going to turn out, but, hey, rules are rules.  And it’s their rule.

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