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Leaked social media policies emphasize Apple's secrecy mantra

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
A leaked document outlining employee guidelines summarizes Apple's unwavering commitment to secrecy, allows little margin for error in a culture saturated by social media.

Apple's internal policies regarding how employees handle information both at the workplace and at home were revealed in a leaked document, depicting a tightly controlled and regulated operation with no room for error.

A recent UK court case that questioned Apple's dismissal of a retail employee over comments he made on Facebook brought attention to internal policies regarding what can and can't be said about the company. Apple was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, with the tribunal ruling that the termination was justified, agreeing that brand and image were central to the company's success.

At the time, the specifics of Apple's policy was unknown to the public, and only a few vague details were given about how employees are expected to conduct themselves online.

The newly leaked papers give rare insight into how the company handles information and its policies regarding social media and the internet.

In general, employees must follow Apple's principles of business conduct:


Honesty. Demonstrate honesty and high ethical standards in all business dealings.
Respect. Treat customers, suppliers, employees, and others with respect and courtesy.
Confidentiality. Protect the confidentiality of Apples information and the information of our customers, suppliers, and employees.
Community. Conduct business in a way that benefits the communities in which we operate.
Compliance. Ensure that business decisions comply with all applicable laws and regulations.


A breach of any one facet could be grounds for termination.

All such individuals are expected to comply with Apples business conduct policy and principles and with all applicable legal requirements. Apple retains the right to discipline (up to and including termination of employment) or end working relationships with those who do not comply.
Applied to social media, for example Facebook, Apple tells employees to "be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks. The lines between public and private, and personal and professional are blurred in online social networks."

Other notables include not commenting on rumors (even with fellow employees), refraining from speculation, posting controversial or inflammatory opinions on social networks and leaking any confidential information.
post #2 of 24
Yupper.
post #3 of 24
So...after working for Apple Retail...then getting a real job and working for hospitals, universities, and corporations, I have to tell you...this policy is pretty much in effect everywhere. Not really a secrecy mantra, it's just professionalism.
post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErosLWS View Post

So...after working for Apple Retail...then getting a real job and working for hospitals, universities, and corporations, I have to tell you...this policy is pretty much in effect everywhere. Not really a secrecy mantra, it's just professionalism.

Edit: Found an example of the policy. It is a long document, but reads like a product manual, so, well, I still like it:
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External...xUeXBlPTM=&t=1

(Probably not Retail specific above but still, interesting stuff and nicely presented. And it's under 20 pages LOL)
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErosLWS View Post

So...after working for Apple Retail...then getting a real job and working for hospitals, universities, and corporations, I have to tell you...this policy is pretty much in effect everywhere. Not really a secrecy mantra, it's just professionalism.

Yep. The only reason this is getting any major press is because its Apple.

But its really the same policy dozens if not hundreds of other companies have. Including the whole "you want to talk smack, then you should get another job" policy

One thing that wasn't mentioned here that might be unique is that Apple strongly discourages identifying yourself as an Apple employee on any social networks. THe reason is apparently that some folks reading what you write might not get that it is a personal opinion not an Apple one when it is something related to the company and there are only a very small number of employees that can make comments on issues. Even something like turning up on a board like and saying "I think that the iPad 3 is going to come out in the spring and it will have a 1200p 120mHz display with improved brightness so it works outside better and 1GB of RAM . . . " could be taken as you actually stating "wink wink" what's going down.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErosLWS View Post

So...after working for Apple Retail...then getting a real job and working for hospitals, universities, and corporations, I have to tell you...this policy is pretty much in effect everywhere. Not really a secrecy mantra, it's just professionalism.

... and if you choose to bash your company, it would be wise to do so anonymously. Then ask yourself, "why don't I find a company whose purpose is in line with my own?"

On the other hand, there is a fine line when expressing displeasure about your job with friends online. First amendment protection only goes so far.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

I
Yes, more and more companies now adopt this kind of broad outline of the philosophy of how you should act, rather than specify piece-by-piece do's and don'ts.

Well there are some piece by piece things I'm sure.
post #8 of 24
Note that Community has been dropped by Apple for China (Supposedly):
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505124_1...uct-for-china/

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In general, employees must follow Apple's principles of business conduct:


Honesty. Demonstrate honesty and high ethical standards in all business dealings.
Respect. Treat customers, suppliers, employees, and others with respect and courtesy.
Confidentiality. Protect the confidentiality of Apple’s information and the information of our customers, suppliers, and employees.
Community. Conduct business in a way that benefits the communities in which we operate.
Compliance. Ensure that business decisions comply with all applicable laws and regulations.


A breach of any one facet could be grounds for termination.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Well there are some piece by piece things I'm sure.

Yeah, following on from the overarching principles... I still like how it is a guideline of sorts, in simple English. Like Steve said, he wanted to build a company in a different way, not just products:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External...xUeXBlPTM=&t=1

I love how it's not just a crappy Microsoft Word document, it's designed pretty much like a product manual.

I guess there are do's and don'ts, but it flows well from the core 4 principles. Apple's not perfect, and I'm sure not everyone working at Apple is a saint, but it's a nice document.

Edit: I know this is slightly different than the one from Retail which is the subject of this thread, just throwing it out there for reference. For example, the document above says: "Important Note: Certain departments (e.g., Operations and Retail) have more restrictive gift policies, which may prohibit giving or receiving gifts altogether. Employees in those departments must adhere to those stricter policies."
post #10 of 24
Check this one out from the document though:

Business Conduct Helpline

The Business Conduct Helpline is available 24/7 to all employees worldwide to help answer your questions on business conduct issues, policies, regulations, and compliance with legal requirements. It also allows you to advise Apple of situations that may require investigation or management attention.

The Business Conduct Helpline is committed to keeping your issues and identity confidential. If you would be more comfortable doing so, you may contact the Helpline anonymously. Your information will be shared only with those who have a need to know, such as those involved in answering your questions or investigating and correcting issues you raise. Note that if your information involves accounting, finance, or auditing, the law may require that necessary information be shared with the Audit and Finance Committee of Apple’s Board of Directors.

Due to legal restrictions, anonymous use of the Business Conduct Helpline is not encouraged in certain countries (e.g., France).
post #11 of 24
I'm just gonna come out and say it. Apple Retail was a GREAT job! Everyone there loved Apple products and the company treated us really well.

I agree that this expectation that employees not insult or criticize their employer is universal. If you work in a doctor's office, a law office or even a Starbuck's and you say embarrassing things about your employer, you WILL get fired. Google "Christopher Cristwell" and see for yourself.

I'm going to generalize wildly and point out that you never see people over the age of 30 getting fired for what they post online. It's always kids. Kids who think they're special. Kids who think they're funny. Kids who, quite frankly, don't think.

If you have a bad day at work, do what everyone else does go to the gym, have a drink, get some rest and show up to work the next day on time in a clean shirt. It's called being an adult. Sheesh.
post #12 of 24
So... don't think different?
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by bstring View Post

First amendment protection only goes so far.

As a lawyer, I just want to point out – and this is a VERY common mistake – that this is not an first amendment matter.

The issue isn't whether you have a right to say whatever you want. You do and no one denies that.

The issue is whether there will be consequences for what you say. The First Amendment, the whole bill of rights, actually, only protects you from the federal government. It doesn't give you one lick of protection from private companies. Apple is basically exercising their right to terminate an employee for defamation and/or breach of contract. The employee is arguing that an employer cannot terminate them for "off hours" conduct.

In the age of Facebook, the courts are really starting to swing in favor of corporations, since so much of their brand identity exists in the same realm as the defaming speech (online). So, it's not so much what you say, but where you say it and how likely it is to have an impact.
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecynicwithin View Post

So... don't think different?

No, given this new revelation that Apple, Inc is not thinking different enough, going forward Apple, Inc. will operate on the principle of daily disclosure of everything that is going on with their business.

In Thinking Different, they will also install live webcams in Jon Ive's design studios and provide, free, unlimited streaming of said webcams to anyone with a WebM-based browser.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by acrobratt View Post

As a lawyer, I just want to point out and this is a VERY common mistake that this is not an first amendment matter.

The issue isn't whether you have a right to say whatever you want. You do and no one denies that.

The issue is whether there will be consequences for what you say. The First Amendment, the whole bill of rights, actually, only protects you from the federal government. It doesn't give you one lick of protection from private companies. Apple is basically exercising their right to terminate an employee for defamation and/or breach of contract. The employee is arguing that an employer cannot terminate them for "off hours" conduct.

In the age of Facebook, the courts are really starting to swing in favor of corporations, since so much of their brand identity exists in the same realm as the defaming speech (online). So, it's not so much what you say, but where you say it and how likely it is to have an impact.

What's the difference between a lawyer and a redhead?
post #16 of 24
No news here. Nothing special.

Sound like the standard policy of nearly all companies I worked or freelanced for in the last twenty years.

In fact it is NOTHING compared to what the policies are in the financial or insurance sector.

And let's be honest: Who talks in public bad about their employer usually get layed off with a perfectly good reason. Always been this way. Today you need to tell people what a professional business conduct is, because they think everyone must know about their recent rant. Before that you just did it in private with friends/family or colleagues and it was good. Just don't involve people outside your close real-life circle. If you post in on the net, it's out there like an open letter. Think before you speak should be treated as a think before you post as well...
post #17 of 24
Even though I follow the rules, I tend to think these rules are just a way for business to control people's social lives and control what people say and do outside of work. That line about controversial opinions is suspect and is way too broad for my tastes.


People are always going to have gripes about their own company and to expect otherwise or expect people to hold it in is not realistic long term....and is generally not good for the work environment in general. Its better to air out the dirty laundry and then people can move on and be better employees. Everyone knows there is always something to complain about at work no matter where you work.

The oooh it's going to hurt my business is a lie in the instances of a normal complaint or controversial opinion. However, in the instances of leaked secrets well that's a different story. Firing an employee for a gripe or having a controversial opinion is almost certain to guarantee military secrets will be released.

This is coming from someone who works at a company that's every bit as iconic and visible as Apple is.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


In general, employees must follow Apple's principles of business conduct:


Honesty. Demonstrate honesty and high ethical standards in all business dealings.
Respect. Treat customers, suppliers, employees, and others with respect and courtesy.
Confidentiality. Protect the confidentiality of Apples information and the information of our customers, suppliers, and employees.
Community. Conduct business in a way that benefits the communities in which we operate.
Compliance. Ensure that business decisions comply with all applicable laws and regulations.


A breach of any one facet could be grounds for termination.

[/url][/c]

Seems to me a pretty common agreement between any professional employer and employees.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Even though I follow the rules, I tend to think these rules are just a way for business to control people's social lives and control what people say and do outside of work. That line about controversial opinions is suspect and is way too broad for my tastes.


People are always going to have gripes about their own company and to expect otherwise or expect people to hold it in is not realistic long term....and is generally not good for the work environment in general. Its better to air out the dirty laundry and then people can move on and be better employees. Everyone knows there is always something to complain about at work no matter where you work.

The oooh it's going to hurt my business is a lie in the instances of a normal complaint or controversial opinion. However, in the instances of leaked secrets well that's a different story. Firing an employee for a gripe or having a controversial opinion is almost certain to guarantee military secrets will be released.

This is coming from someone who works at a company that's every bit as iconic and visible as Apple is.

However, I would believe that your "iconic" company, as most any company does, has a method and channels in place to state your grievances, and possibly have a sit-down to discuss them INTERNALLY. No company that I am aware of, allows their employees to take their grievances "public" without consequences, and especially without giving said company, the FIRST opportunity to address your... or your teams, grievances.

The small companies that I work with have (almost) monthly team and entire company "b****, rant and complain" meetings. That is the place to to see what can be done about problems that, lets face it, is absolute commonplace when more than 1 human being has to communicate and work with others... many times spending more hours per week than with their own spouse and family.

I was at one such meeting recently, where the receptionist was taken to task for wearing a rather pungent and nauseating perfume (smelled like burning Jelly Beans!). While she was personally affronted and felt dissed, guess what? The very next day more than a few of her colleagues showed up with dozens of testers, and in the break had a "perfume party". OK... that was also nauseating... but just sayin'... problem taken care of, and it built camaraderie and the gal had a smile put back on her face.

Now, imagine if her colleagues would have mobbed her instead, and took the problem to FB... and then she went of half-crazed defending herself, etc. etc. Not only the internal strife within the company, but a stupid unnecessary mess for management to try and clean up... or clean out. The people I know don't have the time for "clean up'... so "clean out" is the most fastidious, and LEGAL, means available.

Just wanna say: it definitely is management's fault first and foremost, if they don't have the foresight to implement something to stop certain problems before they even get "legs".

I would've expected absolutely nothing less from Apple and SJ for having such a thorough, simple, clean "user experience" for dealing with HR and employee policies.
Knowing what you are talking about would help you understand why you are so wrong. By "Realistic" - AI Forum Member
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Knowing what you are talking about would help you understand why you are so wrong. By "Realistic" - AI Forum Member
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post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Confidentiality. Protect the confidentiality of Apples information and the information of our customers, suppliers, and employees.

[...] A breach of any one facet could be grounds for termination.

Ooops. It seems somebody will leave the boat, or did it already...
post #21 of 24
Obviously putting anything into print is always liable to leak out.
It works both ways though so if you praise your employer you are this classified as corrupt.

Lower down the ladder it is usually safe to verbally comment between mates.
Doing so on-line or via email, even privately it is obviously going to exist long term and that so called mate may not be so.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by acrobratt View Post

I'm just gonna come out and say it. Apple Retail was a GREAT job! Everyone there loved Apple products and the company treated us really well.

I agree that this expectation that employees not insult or criticize their employer is universal. If you work in a doctor's office, a law office or even a Starbuck's and you say embarrassing things about your employer, you WILL get fired. Google "Christopher Cristwell" and see for yourself.

I'm going to generalize wildly and point out that you never see people over the age of 30 getting fired for what they post online. It's always kids. Kids who think they're special. Kids who think they're funny. Kids who, quite frankly, don't think.

If you have a bad day at work, do what everyone else does go to the gym, have a drink, get some rest and show up to work the next day on time in a clean shirt. It's called being an adult. Sheesh.

I don't think it's a "kids" thing. I think the younger generation(s) are just more likely to post their thoughts, emotions, etc. online. If you're publicly defaming your company, you shouldn't be surprised when you get fired. I think the trouble is that social networks blur that line between public and private. What employees think is a private comment visible to their friends can be leaked out or otherwise made public.
post #23 of 24
Principles such as these used to be referred to words like "professionalism," "responsibility," and "decency."

It's sad that for a corporation to actually embody any principle other than short-sighted greed has become remarkable, but tragic that so few understand that such principles are a large part of Apple's success.

Publicly criticizing one's employer is like publicly criticizing one's spouse: no matter how just the grievance, it always reflects badly on the aggrieved. To say "I ended the relationship after doing my best to resolve our differences and failing" shows integrity - the rest is just whining.

Of course in a culture where being put upon is a mark of status, individuals inevitably vie to be the biggest victim with the largest audience. The result is Jerry Springer writ large across entire societies.
post #24 of 24
What everybody else said about this being fairly standard in large corporations. Nothing to see here. Standard stuff. You wanna work for Large Very Public Corporation X that is avidly followed by admirers, bashers, and those with agendas, and investors? Go with the team message in public. Random insider trash on the Internet can materially hurt your company. Let the PR and media relations people be your handlers. That's their job and they know the pitfalls. Don't be stupid. Sure you have opinions but they're the ones freaking paying you. You don't like it? Get a different job or start your own business.
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