As a leading company in information and communications technology, we are continually working to fulfill our mission of connecting people. This means that, as employees, we have a special responsibility. Not only are we helping to shape the digital world with our networks, our way of communicating in the digital sphere is also key for our coexistence. We at Deutsche Telekom stand for values such as tolerance, open-mindedness, and intercultural experience, opposed to any kind of discrimination or populism.
Social media makes it possible for us to express ourselves and help shape the world. The more participate the better, but it also gets more complicated. Where people come together, so too do ideas, experiences, and emotions.
We want to ensure respectful and appreciative interaction both within and outside of the company, as well as a culture of communication to reflect that. That is why we have revised our guidelines.
These apply for Deutsche Telekom’s social media platforms, both internal and external. They also apply additionally to employees’ private social media accounts that reference Deutsche Telekom.
The priority topics for us are:
- Taking a stance, without causing division
- Including, instead of excluding
- Sharing competent posts, not hasty reactions
The guidelines also have a practical role. They help keep us safe from harm, since there are any number of stumbling blocks to watch out for in the digital sphere.
1. We value debate.
Honest and critical contributions are part of our culture of debate. We value the diversity of opinions to be found both internally and externally. When things begin to get heated, respect for human dignity and the right to privacy of the individual, workplace harmony, our Guiding Principles, the Code of Conduct, and the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz) are still our most important standards to follow. Not only does this help prevent damaging Deutsche Telekom’s image, it is also conducive to productive exchange.
As an employee, you are called to contribute to respectful and unprejudiced interaction through the manner and content of your comments. Depending on the situation, it may be better to listen than to answer straightaway. Sometimes a level-headed response or even a call for moderation is needed at just the right moment.
2. We do not tolerate bullies, stalkers, or radicals.
We use digital media to build relationships. That means we will show no tolerance to anyone seeking to destroy these relationships. We do not accept any activity that excludes, discriminates against, or threatens persons, or that glorifies violence. For us this particularly includes bullying, stalking, the dissemination of extremist ideologies or content by unconstitutional organizations, as well as violent images, public calls to unlawful action, etc. As a company, we will report criminal offenses or have them prosecuted under labor law.
3. The law still applies for us online, but that’s not all.
Freedom of expression, as established in the German Basic Law, also applies to statements made in the digital sphere, of course. However, this right ceases to apply once the rights of other persons or companies are infringed upon – and that is not unique to social media. In particular, offensive or derogatory statements made against another person or in relation to another person go beyond the limits of freedom of expression and constitute criminal acts. Statements targeting or inciting hate or violence against a national, racial, religious, or ethnic group are also criminal offenses.
4. We make it clear who we are and who we are working for.
It can be difficult for external parties to discern whether you are speaking as a Deutsche Telekom employee or as a private person, since there are no clear boundaries in the digital sphere. If you are active on a platform and recognizable as a Deutsche Telekom employee, you are also acting as an “ambassador for the company.” Your posts therefore also have an impact on Deutsche Telekom’s public image. Please be aware of this at all times. If in doubt, these posts have to be flagged as advertisements.
Once a social media account is used – at least in part – to fulfill professional tasks, it requires provider identification information. This also applies for private accounts or personal profiles. Provider identification information is always necessary, unless the account is used exclusively for private purposes.
In the event that you make statements regarding Deutsche Telekom, its products, or those of competitors, it is recommended that you note your affiliation with the company so you do not create the impression of masked advertising. It is also recommended that you identify the comments as being your own private opinion to avoid giving the impression that you are speaking in Deutsche Telekom’s name.
It is generally advised to be careful when it comes to statements regarding competitors and their products. Competitors must not be disparaged in any case. Comparative advertising, price advertising, or advertising with test results should only ever be used following agreement with the legal unit responsible for competition law.
5. We protect data and information.
We support the open exchange of knowledge. There are, however, limits to this when it concerns personal data, e.g., of our customers, or sensitive information, such as trade and business secrets, which require special protection. Confidential information does not belong on external social media or even in closed user groups, and may only be shared on internal platforms after receiving express approval. Internal information does not belong in the public domain either. There are other applications for this, such as YAM.
If you are not sure whether information or data may be made public or whether an application may be used for sharing information and data, you should not publish it at all.
6. We protect our brands.
Deutsche Telekom ranks among the most valuable brands worldwide. Ensure that our brands (the T logo and color magenta in particular) are reproduced correctly and unchanged. You may also not produce your own designs using elements of our brand, for example. Our Brand Design team can lend their support on the correct use of our brand.
7. We only use content for which we have usage rights or which is free to use.
Creative content is protected by copyright. It may only be used with the copyright owner’s consent (license). Exceptions are only allowed within very tight limits, so steer clear of re-uploading third-party content! Under copyright law, even downloading third-party content is risky. Re-uploads are only allowed with the author’s agreement.
The use of other companies’ brands and trademarks – their names, product brands, or logos, for example – must be treated with the same amount of care and reserve.
The use of third-party trademarks always has an impact in terms of trademark law and draws the attention of the rights-holder. So just as we generally do not want our brands to be used by third parties without our permission, there is reason to fear that other companies would take legal action against the use of their brands. Please note that “fictional trademarks” – from films, for example – are also often registered and their unauthorized use may be actively prosecuted by the rights-holder.
Photos of persons are a special case. For these, you generally have to seek consent from those visible in the picture – as well as that of the photographer.
8. Take caution when integrating third-party content (though sharing, linking, frames, embedding, liking, reposting, retweeting, etc.)
Before integrating third-party content into your post, always ask yourself if you want to be associated with the content concerned. If you are integrating content and posts that may be unlawful, there is also a risk that, as a “distributor,” you may be made responsible for the legal infringement.
As such, embedding protected content may also be a copyright violation. It does not matter whether this has been used internally (e.g., on YAM), externally (e.g., on Facebook), privately or professionally.
9. Violations have consequences.
Content that violates laws and/or could disrupt workplace harmony or damage Deutsche Telekom’s image on being made public may have consequences under labor, criminal, or civil law. The content may also be deleted in such a situation. The Communications and Compliance units will become involved in such a case, as will employees' representatives.