Apple’s Internal Policies On Rumors, Internet Activity, And Code Of Conduct Revealed

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9to5Mac has gotten its hands on Apple’s internal policies concerning employee behavior on the internet, rumors, leaks, and the company’s code of conduct.

Apple is pretty strict when it comes to monitoring its employees’ online activity, and the company operates by a HRCCC (honesty, respect, confidentially, community, compliance) strategy. Employees are not allowed to say anything directly about Apple in any online, public forum.

More details after the break.

Interesting facts:

  • Employees cannot use blogs, wikis, social networks, and similar online tools to internally communicate about the company.
  • Personal websites by employees cannot be used to discuss Apple in any way. Employees are also restricted from commenting on any Apple-related websites. (Boo!)
  • Apple has a zero-tolerance policy on spreading rumors, and employees are not to engage in rumor discussion with customers. Instead, employees have to say something along the lines of, “Apple does not comment on rumors about decisions, products, programs, or promotions that have not been officially announced by Apple.”
  • Interaction with customers outside of business purposes is prohibted. “Do not use or discuss any information regarding customers for any purpose. This includes contacting customers for social reasons or soliciting outside business.”
  • Apple requests that employees differentiate their work and private email addresses. “You have been given a free .mac/.me email address to use for non-work related emails. Please use that email or another personal email address for those types of communications.”

Like most companies, Apple also asks its employees to use disclaimers on websites and social networks. This is a measure meant to prevent others from thinking that an employees’ opinion reflects Apple’s as a whole.

The leaked document also says, “Finally, do not post or disclose the contents of any Apple policy. These documents are intended for the use of Apple employees, and not for public distribution.”

Oops!

Here’s part of the packet:

Apple Retail Blogging and Online Social Media Guidelines:

Whether or not you as an Apple employee choose to create or participate in a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion is your own choice. In general, what you do on your own time is your business. However, activities that affect your job performance, the performance of other Apple employees, or Apple’s business interests are still covered by company policies and guidelines. This applies whether you engage in these activities in or outside of work, and whether or not you identify yourself as an Apple employee.

If you choose to participate in these types of online activities it is important that you understand what is recommended, expected and required, whether at work or on your own time. Accordingly, we have developed the following guidelines for you to follow when posting to a blog or some other form of social media like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or Linkedin.

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. If you identify yourself as an Apple employee or are known to be one, you are now connected to your co-workers, Leaders and even Apple’s customers. You should ensure that content associated with you is consistent with Apple policies.

Respect your audience and your coworkers. Remember that Apple is a global organization whose employees and customers reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also topics that may be considered offensive or inflammatory. Use your best judgment, but if you need further guidance regarding what constitutes inappropriate communications please consult with HR, your Leader or Apple’s Harassment policy.

Respect the privacy of your coworkers. Blogs, wikis, social networks and other tools should not be used for internal communications among fellow employees. It is fine for Apple employees to disagree, but please don’t use your external blog or other online social media to air your differences. Do not discuss your co-workers without their permission, and ask permission before posting their picture. By respecting your co- workers’ privacy you will be helping to maintain the professional work environment at Apple.

Respect the privacy of our customers. It is a priority that we respect the privacy of our customers. Do not use or discuss any information regarding customers for any purpose. This includes contacting customers for social reasons or soliciting outside business. If you need further guidance in this area, please refer to Apple’s policy regarding customer private information.

Use a disclaimer. When Apple wishes to communicate publicly as a company it has well established means to do so. Only those individuals officially designated by Apple have the authority to speak on behalf of the company. If you identify yourself as an Apple employee, however, people may confuse your opinions with those of the company. In order to avoid this problem you must make clear that you are writing for yourself and on your own behalf, and not for Apple. At a minimum, we strongly recommend that you include a disclaimer similar to the following: “the postings on this site are my own and do not represent Apple’s opinions or positions.”

Protect Apple’s confidential information. As an Apple employee you have an obligation to protect the confidential, proprietary and trade secret information of the company. This obligation is laid out in several places including the Intellectual Property Agreement you signed when hired and in Apple’s Confidential Information Policy. For example, do not discuss any Apple confidential information including your store’s financial or business performance, and the timing, pricing or design of Apple’s products. Also, do not post pictures of the inside of the Apple Store – including the back of house – as those are not generally made public. Finally, do not post or disclose the contents of any Apple policy. These documents are intended for the use of Apple employees, and not for public distribution.

Respect copyright, fair use laws. For Apple’s protection as well as your own, it is critical that you comply with all laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others. For example, this means you should not be using Apple logos or images for your own personal use. Also, you may not copy, digitize, alter or distribute any part of a copyrighted work without first obtaining written permission from the copyright owner. For more information please refer to Apple’s copyright policy.

Don’t use your Apple email for personal use. Your Apple email address has been given to you for use at work. Therefore you should not use your Apple email address on your personal blog or when posting on social network sites. You have been given a
free .mac/.me email address to use for non-work related emails. Please use that email or another personal email address for those types of communications.

In sum, use your best judgment. Remember there may be consequences to what you post or publish online including discipline if you engage in conduct that Apple deems inappropriate or violates any Apple policies. If you’re about to post something and you are concerned whether you are following these guidelines or any Apple policy, please discuss it with your Leader or HR before posting.