Employment Law Report

The Dangers of “Be Real” in the Workplace

By: Marianna J. Michael

While most employers actively encourage their employees to be their authentic selves during work, the newest app encouraging people to “Be Real” may lead to the disclosure of highly sensitive and privileged information. The “Be Real” app was created in 2020, but became increasingly popular in 2022. The app encourages users to take pictures of themselves and their surroundings at random times throughout the day. The app generates a notification which prompts the user to take a picture within 2 minutes. The unpredictability of the notification is meant to catch the user off-guard to present an unfiltered look into the user’s life.  The app simultaneously captures an image of the user with its front facing camera and an image of the user’s surroundings with the back facing camera.

While the concept is innovative, this app could lead to employees inadvertently disclosing trade secrets and private or confidential information if the picture captures sensitive and privileged information at the work place. According to the BBC, most users have admitted to zooming in on their friends’ screens to read their emails or discover what they are working on. The risk extends beyond the workplace if the user works from home or is meeting with a client and takes a “Be Real” photo that violates policy.

In order to limit the potential liability and to prevent disclosure of sensitive information, employers should create social media and privacy policies or update existing policies to address these concerns. Further, employers should periodically publish and distribute social media policies to all employees. In a time where new social media apps are created regularly, employers will want to ensure that their employees are aware of relevant policies to reduce the risk of employment termination.

While the National Labor Relations Board has issued guidance restricting the reach of employers’ social media policies, effective policies may still be crafted to protect companies’ interests and grant employees the ability to communicate. Please reach out to a member of Wyatt’s Employment Law team with questions, or if you would like for us to draft or review your policies.