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Friday, December 02, 2011, 05:37 pm PT (08:37 pm ET)

Leaked social media policies emphasize Apple's secrecy mantra

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 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.

All such individuals are expected to comply with Apple’s 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.